Gun ownership: Responsibilities and concerns

By  | 

(WTAP): West Virginia is now one of ten states that doesn't require a license to carry a concealed weapon.

And while both the Wood County Sheriff's Department and Parkersburg Police Department avidly support the Second Amendment, they have concerns with the new law.

"There's just situations where people weren't armed before, and will be armed now," said Wood County Captain King. "There've been many times in my career when we arrive on the scene and somebody says, 'well it's a good thing I didn't have a gun.' And if they do have a gun, then that ups the ante."

"Now that everybody's going to be carrying a firearm potentially, those altercations will probably more than likely result in brandishing and hopefully not, somebody getting shot," said Parkersburg Police Chief Martin.

An example of a situation that can turn life threatening is road rage.

"Before, they're just going to argue, they're going to call us, and we'll sort it out without anyone getting hurt," said King. "But now, you're at a higher risk of somebody getting injured."

Since Constitutional Carry took effect, Martin says they've only had two incidents involving someone using poor judgement while carrying a concealed weapon.

But he expects to see an increase in the future.

"I would forecast that we will see an increase in bad choices or bad decisions with folks that are carrying weapons," said Martin. "People think that the state has passed this new legislation, opens the doors to many avenues they didn't have before, which is definitely not the case, so I do anticipate those types of investigations to increase."

Another issue with neglecting to get a license is crossing state borders.

It may be legal to carry a gun without a license in West Virginia, but in 40 other states, it's not.

"If you cross the state line, you're in violation of Ohio's laws," said King. "And just about any state line that you cross. So a concealed carry permit is a good idea because it is valid in Ohio and 32 other states."

King and Martin share concerns about Constitutional Carry, but they say their biggest concern is people using guns without knowing how.

"If you could advise people who are now carrying firearms without licenses, what would you tell them?," I asked.

"To train," said Martin. "To get some training. Whether it's free, whether it's through the local friends of the NRA, through our Combat Pistol League, any training that they can get is going to be beneficial to them, and beneficial to us."

"They need to take some training," said King. "Like in our discussion where you've taken the concealed carry class, you learned a lot and anybody out there is going to learn a lot about what their responsibilities are, how to handle a firearm safely, and right now how it's set up, you can just tuck one in your belt, cover up, and take off."

While only ten states have passed Constitutional Carry, several more states are seeing similar proposals introduced as legislation.

UPDATE 7/27/16 9:55 AM

Licensed concealed carry holders are on the rise.

Over the last 12 months in Washington County, over 900 residents have gotten their concealed carry licenses.

That number's almost a thousand in Wood County, and over one hundred in Pleasants County.

The exact requirements for a concealed carry license vary.

Some states only require online training.

Other states, like Ohio, require eight hours of training, including two on a range.

That means students can spend up to six hours in the classroom learning how to safely use a fire arm.

Or in my case, five hours in the classroom, four hours on the range.

Gun safety training is different depending on where you take your take class.

At my class, my instructor covered everything from how to safely handle a gun, to what ammunition different guns take.

Instructors go through several lessons, ending classroom training with a written exam.

Jones says tests can vary from one question, to three pages.

Once you're done, the training moves outdoors.

On the range, instruction gradually moved from basics, to how to properly load a gun, shoot a gun with both hands, with one hand, and how to shoot a gun in unexpected confrontations.

After nine hours of training, I received my certificate of completion, and was set to visit the Wood County Sheriff's Department.

Residents are required to provide an up-to date application, certificate of completion, valid driver's license, and passport-sized photo.

After passing a background check and paying the required amount, you're a licensed concealed carry holder.

Here in the U.S., Americans own about 270 million guns.

For some perspective, that’s about 80% of the current U.S. population.

I visited gun stores in Ohio and West Virginia to find out how exactly these got people got their guns.

“First step is, not as much why do you want a gun but what do you want to do with the gun?, asked Magnum Get your Shot On Owner Chuck Nonnenmacher. "You need a gun to fit the situation. You know, if you get a big frame gun, which is conducive for shooting on the range and having fun with and it’s good in your hand, it will not work as a concealed.”

“What type of job do you do?, asked Henderson Wilds Owner Greg Smith. "Or how do you want to do this? Do you want one to carry? Or do you want one in your room. Cause that’s going to depend on the type of firearm that I’m going to recommend you to use."

After deciding what the best fit was for me, both suggested I take a gun safety class.

“With this, we have a free basic construction class, and we set you up for basic construction class or highly recommend you take it," said Smith. "Can’t force you to take it, but highly recommend you take it. It’s just like a car, I want to make sure you’re going to be safe with this firearm and know how to use it."

“You need to know your gun," Nonnenmacher. "One thing nice about our rental program, if you are new to shooting, you can rent a gun similar to what you want to purchase so you can feel the recoil."

Declining further training, I asked to buy my gun.

“Well the first thing we do is, you have to have identification," said Smith. "Photo identification that has your name, has your birth date and I have to have your social security number. And what we do is we fill out what’s called a form 4473, that’s by the FBI.”

The form asks for personal information including your full name, place of residence, race and ethnicity, and birth date.

Then, a series of yes or no questions.

The first asks if you are the actual transferee of the gun you’re buying.

Buying a gun for someone who’s prohibiting from owning one is called a straw purchase, and is against the law.

“ …We’re very, very very strict on straw purchase around her,” said Nonnenmacher.

The next 12 questions ask the purchaser if they’ve had any run- ins with the law.

Some of the questions include: Are you a fugitive from justice?

Or, are you subject to a court order restraining you from harassing, stalking, or threatening your child or an intimate partner?

If you answer yes to any of these questions...

“You’re done….you’re done…”, said Nonnenmacher.

Once you’re finished, a store worker reviews your paperwork, and calls it into the FBI.

If you check out, you have the right to proceed.

If you don’t, the FBI has three more days to further check you out.

But according to Smith, most of the time the process takes a fraction of that.

“Over 90, 99% of the time, it’s about anywhere to five minutes. Like I said, it’s longer for you to fill out the form, and for us to review the form, than to get the approval of the FBI.”

The entire process at both gun stores took me approximately 20 minutes.

But as Nonnenmacher says, it can take half of that time.

“As long as you have nothing on your record, I mean... ten minutes. Ten minutes. Ten minutes easy.”

Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station. powered by Disqus