Message to West Virginia Gun Owners from the 2011 Legislative Session – JOIN or DIE

Message to All West Virginia Gun Owners from the 2011 Legislative Session – JOIN or DIE

Join or Die
Message to All West Virginia Gun Owners from the 2011 Legislative Session - Join or Die
West Virginia Citizens Defense League
West Virginia Citizens Defense League

West Virginia –-( It’s that simple–and I don’t mean necessarily join WVCDL (although that would help).

I mean that all gun owners in West Virginia are going to have to unite behind future legislative initiatives if we are going to break the growing legislative logjam that shows no signs of breaking on its own.

This year, WVCDL revamped its legislative strategy by condensing our entire legislative agenda into one bill. For several years, we wrote and got many different bills introduced, mostly going nowhere. We had been urged by various legislators and staffers to focus our efforts on one or two bills each year. So, we took that advice and placed our primary focus behind one bill this year.

Despite our new strategy, various legislators and individuals not affiliated with WVCDL chose to once again attempt to pursue separate legislation. None of them got anywhere–not even retired law enforcement officers who only wanted adequate legislation in place to ensure access to qualification programs for nationwide concealed carry for “qualified retired law enforcement officers’ under federal law.

Between now and the 2012 legislative session, WVCDL is going to urge all pro-gun legislators to simply not introduce any gun-related legislation other than the West Virginia Gun Owner Protection Act.

See the picture above. For the last few years, gun owners pursuing various legislative initiatives have simply not hung together. However, we have done magnificent jobs of hanging separately.

Next year, we want the West Virginia Gun Owner Protection Act to be the only game in town for the House & Senate Judiciary Committees to consider if they feel enough heat to get serious about addressing gun rights issues.

Lest there be any misunderstandings, the West Virginia Gun Owner Protection Act is not being offered on a “take it or leave it,” “all or nothing” basis”–far from it. However, at the rate our Legislature is acting, there is not a single person on this earth today who will live to see 1/4 of the issues we have identified as needing legislative attention debated–much less enacted into law. There is a legislative logjam that we must clear–and it is not going away until we do the hard work of clearing it.

There’s a lot we can debate, discuss, amend, etc. However, right now, the legislative process simply is not working at all. Anyone who is serious about debating and attempting to influence public policy knows that a bill 1/10 the size of HB 3125 and SB 543 is not going to emerge from the legislative process and become law precisely in the same form as it was introduced. However, with that said, we’re simply not going to concede half our agenda before we’ve even introduced a bill. The West Virginia Gun Owner Protection Act is the product of a sophisticated, strategic legislative strategy through which we want to get the most we can possibly get at a particular point in time, even if we must temporarily set some issues aside for the future to get many other things that can be obtained now.

In short, in order for West Virginia gun owners to make any truly significant legislative progress in the future, we must make the West Virginia Gun Owner Protection Act the basis of legislative negotiations, rather than present law. We must make those who are either oppose or indifferent to us propose modest changes to a bill we have written, rather than let them make us play small ball and make only modest changes to a body of law they have written over many decades. Even if we have to accept several amendments that temporarily set us back, we need to at least pass a bill that will put in place the legal architecture for us to return in the future and seek what we had to temporarily set aside before with short, concise bills that I can assure you are simply not possible due to broader issues with the law that would be corrected if we can get just half of the West Virginia Gun Owner Protection Act enacted into law.

This means that retired law enforcement officers are going to have to stop having bills like HB 3087 and SB 387 introduced separately (similar–in fact, better, provisions are already included in the West Virginia Gun Owner Protection Act).

This means that the prosecuting attorneys are going to have to stop having bills like HB 3087 and SB 306 separately introduced.
In the interests of full disclosure, HB 3087 was a WVCDL bill from 2008, which we stopped advancing as a standalone measure and rewrote before incorporating it into the West Virginia Gun Owner Protection Act, and SB 306 is part of that bill.

This means that our veterans and active service members who are right to want to be able to use their honorable discharge or proof of current military service in lieu of a (largely redundant) separate concealed handgun training class have to stop having bills like HB 3237 separately introduced. The West Virginia Gun Owner Protection Act already includes this language.

This means that my good friends, Senator Dave Sypolt and Delegate Gary Howell –despite how adversely they are affected by the current law-– must drop their standalone legislation to repeal or relax the State Capitol Carry ban: SB 340 (full capitol carry ban repeal), HB 2457 (parking lot storage for CHL holders only), and HB 3093 (Capitol carry ban repeal, but only for constitutional officers and state employees who have a CHL).

Finally, this means that anyone else who thinks they can have a standalone bill dealing with a comparatively tiny and simple gun-related issue should think long and hard about the effect a standalone bill will have on the broader gun rights agenda.

As I said above, we gun owners are doing a magnificent job of hanging separately. Now, I suggest we try hanging together.

The West Virginia Citizens Defense League (WVCDL) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, all-volunteer, grassroots organization of concerned West Virginians who support our individual right to keep and bear arms for defense of self, family, home and state, and for lawful hunting and recreational use, as protected by the state constitution and the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution. Visit: