The best single-sentence explanation of HB 3125 would be: "HB 3125 is a comprehensive revision of West Virginia's gun laws that expands the rights of law-abiding gun owners and increases the penalties for the criminal misuse of firearms and other weapons."
In a press release announcing the introduction of HB 3125, the West Virginia Defense League listed the following as the top 5 most significant things HB 3125 does:
1. Eliminates the requirement of a license to carry concealed weapons in most places, as is already practiced in Alaska, Arizona, and Vermont. Instead, HB 3125 would prohibit certain, narrowly-defined categories of persons from carrying concealed weaponssimilar to standard licensing eligibility requirements in most stateswith the availability of judicial relief from disabilities on a case-by-case basis. Several other states, including Kentucky, are actively considering similar legislation.
2. Reduces & reforms places where carrying is prohibited. HB 3125 would provide that a person who is licensed to carry a concealed weapon would have an absolute right to carry in any state or local government building that do not have in place both adequate security measures (including mandatory metal detector screenings and armed security guards), specified signage warning that weapons are prohibited, and secure weapon storage facilities for individuals to check their weapons while in a secure restricted access area. Colorado has a similar law (Colorado Revised Statutes § 18-12-214). However, regardless of what security measures are in place, HB 3125 would continue to prohibit weapons in correctional facilities (WV Code §61-5-8(c)(1)) and courtrooms (proposed WV Code §61-7-11b).
3. Strengthens state preemption of local gun control ordinances and prevents state agencies and other publicly-funded or controlled entities from imposing more restrictive rules than what the Legislature has enacted. HB 3125 would bring to a quick conclusion the lawsuits recently filed against the cities of Charleston, South Charleston, Dunbar, and Martinsburg, challenging a variety of local gun control ordinances, by completely preempting all the challenged ordinances as a matter of state law and avoiding the need for more extensive and expensive litigation that may result if the Legislature does not act.
4. Increases the value of West Virginia's concealed weapons license (which, in most cases, would be optional within West Virginia under HB 3125) by qualifying West Virginia for reciprocity with every state that has some form of reciprocity law in effect and qualifying West Virginia to join 16 other states (map) in which concealed weapon license background checks are thorough enough to meet requirements under federal law to permit a concealed weapons license holder to use the license in lieu of a separate background check to purchase a firearm from a licensed dealer. If passed in its current form, HB 3125 would make West Virginia the first and only state to achieve full reciprocity with every state that has some form of reciprocity law in effect. Click here for a map of West Virginia's current reciprocity with other states, here for a map of West Virginia's potential reciprocity with other states, and here for a map showing the reasons why West Virginia does not have reciprocity with many states.
5. Prescribes new, enhanced criminal penalties for the unlawful use or possession of firearms during the commission of felony crimes of violence, felony drug offenses, and certain other criminal acts. See proposed WV Code §61-7-13.