CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) — West Virginia voters could see an amendment to the state constitution in the next general election.
It’s related to the second amendment – the right to bear arms.
The Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this week passed a number of pro-gun rights legislation, one of which is called The Protection of the Right to Bear Arms Amendment, or Senate Joint Resolution 1.
It would require a two-thirds vote of the house and senate before being put on the ballot.
The state of West Virginia currently has an “F” letter grade on gun safety from the Giffords Law Center.
The Mountain State also has the 13th-highest gun death rate in the country according to the CDC.
While gun safety and banning assault rifles are back in the national conversation following three mass shootings – the latest overnight in Virginia Beach – the West Virginia Senate Judiciary Committee is busying itself upholding gun rights.
“This is a very 2nd Amendment right state,” said Sen. Jack Woodrum (R-Summers).
Woodrum is one of 11 republican senators sponsoring SJR 1 which would amend the state constitution to read: “No agent, agency, municipality, county, or any other political subdivision of state government may restrict this right by means of locality, ammunition capacity, caliber, modification, accessory, decibel, method of carry, or by any other means.”
Put another way, cities and counties could not pass gun control measures more stringent than what is set by the legislature.
“We’re trying to guarantee people’s constitutional rights here in West Virginia and some of that is dealing specifically with the second amendment which is under attack kinda seems like every day right now by our counterparts in the federal government,” said Woodrum.
Reaction on social media to enhanced gun control was mixed.
“Sounds good. Guns are only as dangerous as the owner,” wrote one follower.
“My children are talking about leaving this state with all of this idiotic legislation being passed, they certainly aren’t making the wild and wonderful state inviting to others,” wrote another social media follower.
Still, Woodrum says he doesn’t see how banning firearms would put a stop to people committing harm.
“The firearm didn’t go out and kill people, you’ve got an individual who used a firearm in the commission of that crime,” he said.
SJR 1 is on its first reading in the state senate.
It’s important to note that federal law trumps state law, so it remains to be put into context how any federal legislation if passed would affect this state constitutional amendment.