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West Virginia Senate Passes Preemption Bill to include more Weapons

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Article first appeared on Ammoland.com

U.S.A.-(Ammoland.com)- The West Virginia Senate passed Senate Bill 96, a reform of the state weapons preemption law, on 11 February 2020. It passed with a vote of 30 in favor, 2 opposed.

It appears all 50 states have some form of weapons preemption law.  Such laws prohibit local governments from enacting rules, ordinances or limits on the exercise of Second Amendment rights. This ensures some weapons laws are uniform across the entire state.

The preemption laws vary in effectiveness and scope. In West Virginia, the current preemption law §8-12-5a has this heading:

§8-12-5a. Limitations upon municipalities’ power to restrict the purchase, possession, transfer, ownership,carrying, transport, sale and storage of certain weapons and ammunition.

The current law prohibits local governments from regulating revolvers, pistols, rifles, shotguns, or any ammunition components, in a manner in conflict with state law.

SB96 expands the protection of the current preemption law to include the most deadly weapons and pepper spray. From Senate Bill 96:

(b) For the purposes of this section:

“Deadly weapon”means an instrument which is designed to be used to produce serious bodily injury or death or is readily adaptable to that use. The term “deadly weapon”includes, but is not limited to:   

(A) A blackjack, gravity knife, knife, switchblade knife, nunchuka, metallic or false knuckles,pistol, revolver and firearm, as defined in §61-7-2 of this code, or other deadly weapons of like kind or character which may be easily concealed on or about the person; and 

 (B) A rifle and a shotgun.

“Deadly weapon”does not include explosive, chemical, biological and radiological materials,or any item or material owned by a school or county board of education intended for curricular use, and used by a student solely for curricular purposes.

Parsing the wording carefully, the bill brings all arms under the protection of the preemption law, with the exception of explosive, chemical, biological, or radiological materials.

As I  wrote almost three years ago, the Supreme Court, in Caetano v. Massachusetts, unanimously affirmed the Second Amendment applies to all bearable arms.  From Ammoland:

In a historic, but extremely short unanimous opinion, the United States Supreme Court has confirmed that the Second Amendment applies “to all instruments that constitute bearable arms,”.  

As this is an enormous class of nearly all weapons, the decision is properly applied to knives and clubs, and nearly all firearms that have been sold in the United States. 

Knives are protected.  Infringements of the right to keep and carry knives have been common in the United States. Knife Rights is lobbying on behalf of West Virginia Senate Bill 96. Knife Rights has a stellar record of restoring the right to keep and carry knives. The organization has lobbied for and been instrumental in passing laws repealing knife bans in 22 states.

Knife Rights has transformed the law about switchblade knives. 20 years ago, switchblade knives were legal in seven states. Now, switchblade knives are legal in 44 states.

Knife Rights proudly claim that The fight to protect our knives is the Second Front in Defense of the Second Amendment”

It is an accurate description.

Many who fight hard to infringe on the rights to keep and carry firearms have been allies in the right to keep and carry knives. This creates momentum and precedent to remove infringements on the right to arms generally.

SB 96 in West Virginia has been referred to the House. If it passes a House vote,  it will need to be signed by Governor Jim Justice to become law.


About Dean 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 retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

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