MADISON, W.Va. — Rodney Miller expressed concerns about the recent legislation that allows those physically in West Virginia to carry a concealed weapon without a permit at the most recent meeting of the Madison Rotary Club.
Miller, the current executive director of the West Virginia Sheriff’s Association, stated the scope of the law is one of his major concerns.
“It doesn’t just apply to West Virginia citizens, it doesn’t matter if they’re … . drug dealers from Detroit. Anyone can legally carry a concealed weapon without a permit,” Miller said.
Miller said the legislators consulted with the West Virginia Sheriff’s Association about the gun law and realized there was some common ground amongst them.
“They were surprised to find out that we, law enforcement, are actually gun people,” Miller said, “We use guns as part of our job, I carry one every day.”
Miller said that one reason the legislature provided for pursuing this law was because $100 permit classes provided an economic barrier to carry a concealed weapon. Miller said the Sheriff’s Association suggested removing the fee from the class and they were not interested in that option.
One of the reasons Miller is worried about this law is that it changes the way law enforcement can do their job. He stated that now that it is legally possible for everyone to carry a concealed weapon, they can no longer conduct pat downs. This was one way for officers to investigate if a suspect is in possession of illegal drugs.
Miller is also concerned that this presumption that everyone could be carrying a gun, will also lead to an altered perception of law enforcement.
“My fear is that there will be a lot more complaints about law enforcement, we have to treat everyone as though they have a gun,” Miller said.
Many of the Rotary Club members present asked why this law was introduced. Miller said he believed it began with a gun lobby group called the West Virginia Citizen’s Defense League. Miller also believes some this movement could be originating from within the legislature.
“A lot of it comes from 2nd amendment purist that think everyone should be able to have a gun without any sort of regulations,” Miller said.
Miller also discussed other projects he works on with the West Virginia Sheriff’s Association, such as the West Virginia Sheriffs’ Youth Leadership Academy. This is a program for students just out of the eighth grade, preparing to enter the ninth. This camp program strives to equip these students with the necessary skills to help others address the issues of drugs, alcohol and violence in their communities. Miller believes this is a great program for West Virginia’s youth.
“We tell the parents they drop their kids off on Sunday and they pick up young adults at the end of the week,” Miller said.