WV Governor Signs Reform to Protect Exercise of the Second Amendment

West Virginia
West Virginia

Arizona -(Ammoland.com)- Governor Jim Justice of West Virginia has signed a reform bill to ensure that West Virginians can exercise their Second Amendment rights during travel. The Governor signed the bill HB 4187, on Friday, March 23rd. The bill passed the House with 85 Yea votes to 14 Nays, on February 27th. It passed the Senate on 9 March, 32 to 1, then had to return to the House because of two amendments that passed the Senate. It passed the House again, on 10 March, 87-11. From wdtv.com:

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WDTV) — Governor Jim Justice has signed a bill to allow people to keep firearms locked in their vehicles while parked on their employer’s property.

Here is the summary of HB 4187. It limits the ability of businesses to forbid firearms in private vehicles that park in their parking lots. The reason for the bill is to ensure that private employers cannot prevent employees from exercising their right to bear arms on the way to and from work. West Virginia joins 22 other states that have enacted similar protections.  Summary From HB 4187:

The purpose of this bill is to create the “Business Liability Protection Act”. The bill includes the right to limit possession of firearms on certain premises and definitions. It also provides for misdemeanor criminal offense and penalty. It prohibits employers from certain specific actions against a person when that person possesses a firearm legally, including a condition of employment. The bill provides a duty of care of public and private employers and provides for immunity from liability. The bill authorizes the Attorney General to enforce this statute, including the right to sue or seek injunctive relief; and seek civil fines.

The two amendments added in the Senate addressed concerns from private businesses.  From wvgazettemail.com:

In the Senate, legislation that would stop private businesses and associations from prohibiting guns in vehicles parked on their property advanced to passage stage on Friday, after the Senate adopted two amendments Thursday (HB 4187).

One change requires that firearms in vehicles be hidden out of view of passers-by. The second clarifies that the right to have firearms in vehicles does not apply to vehicles owned or leased to a private business or association.

The amendments were adopted on a voice vote, without debate.

Courts have ruled that legislators have the power to make trade-offs between the exercise of rights.  The Mississippi Supreme Court found that the Constitution and statutes of Mississippi protected the right to keep and bear arms, including in a person’s vehicle.  From Swindol v. Aurora Flight Sciences Corp. MS Supreme Court(pdf):

Swindol appealed, and the Fifth Circuit has now certified the following question to this Court:

Whether in Mississippi an employer may be liable for a wrongful discharge of an employee for storing a firearm in a locked vehicle on company property in a manner that is consistent with [Mississippi Code] Section 45-9-55.

Swindol v. Aurora Flight Sciences Corp., 805 F.3d 516, 523 (5th Cir. 2015). The Fifth Circuit also concluded that it “would benefit from [this Court’s] analysis of whether Section 45-9-55(5) bars” Swindol’s suit. Id. at 522.

The Mississippi Supreme Court found that the Constitution and statutes of Mississippi protected the right to keep and bear arms, including in a persons’ vehicle.

There is a growing body of state law that holds the right to keep and bear arms as a fundamental right on an equal with others in the Bill of Rights.  Federal appeals courts in blue states such as California and Maryland have ruled the right to be of secondary value, that may be infringed with little consequence.

One more appointment by President Trump could break the logjam on the United States Supreme Court. The United States Supreme court has refused to take significant cases on Second Amendment rights beyond the restoration of rights seen in the McDonald decision in 2010.

©2018 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.

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About Dean WeingartenDean Weingarten

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.