Bill would allow guns in cars parked on WV Capitol grounds - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Bill would allow guns in cars parked on WV Capitol grounds

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People with concealed carry permits know where they can and cannot carry their firearms. However, some don't realize that storing a gun in their cars while parked on Capitol grounds is currently illegal.

But one bill moving through the Legislature could change that.

House Bill 2135, introduced by Delegate Gary Howell, R-Mineral, would allow people to store their loaded guns in their cars while those cars are parked on Capitol grounds. The House Roads and Transportation Committee discussed the bill Feb. 20. According to committee counsel, Capitol security would have the same level of enforcement as other law enforcement officers. That means they could potentially try door locks and peer in windows to ensure guns are stored properly and out of sight.

Delegate Margaret Staggers, D-Fayette, chairs the Roads and Transportation Committee. She said most members of the House of Delegates park their vehicles on Kanawha Boulevard or California Avenue and a number of people keep guns in their cars.

Capitol police did have one request — they prefer the guns be stored unloaded. Howell offered that as an amendment, which did not pass.

"An unloaded gun is useless if I need to protect myself," said Delegate Linda Goode Phillips, D-Wyoming. "If I'm leaving the Capitol late at night and I don't call Capitol security … and I get out on California or the Boulevard, either one, and someone tires to accost me, if I can get to my car and get (the gun) out, I know I can use it."

Phillips noted it can take a while to load a weapon.

"It's a protection factor," she said. "I'd rather have that gun loaded."

Delegate Justin Marcum, D-Mingo, spoke in favor of the bill, noting some delegates travel far from home and they want the additional protection a firearm can provide.

"Some of us come from long distances and have to keep (guns) in our house or make sure they're off Capitol grounds," he said. "I speak in favor of this bill."

The bill will now go to the House Judiciary Committee.