"Small Government" Takes a Backseat to "Guns Everywhere" in West Virginia

I've highlighted a number of similar bills since starting this project that would strip cities, municipalities, and even school districts of the ability to decide for themselves what regulations would apply to firearms within their confines. Part of the conversation around these "preemption" laws is the unavoidable fact that "local control" - the idea that the closer government got to the people, the more responsive it was to their needs was a longstanding tenet of American conservative thought. This idea apparently does not apply to firearms, the issue where the difference in priorities between cities and rural areas is perhaps the largest.

In microcosm, this tenet applies equally to businesses. Ostensibly, conservative thought holds that the less a business is told they have to do, the better off they will be. But again, this philosophy seems malleable when it comes to guns. 

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In West Virginia, Republican Gov. Jim Justice yesterday signed a NRA-backed bill that dictates that private businesses must allow employees to keep firearms in vehicles parked on their private property. 

Although titled the “Business Liability Protection Act,” the bill (House Bill 4187) had opposition from many in the business community, including the West Virginia Business and Industry Council, which called the bill “an unwarranted and unnecessary intrusion on any business owner’s property rights.”
 
While the bill passed both houses of the Legislature by wide margins — 85-14 in the House of Delegates, 32-1 in the Senate — it drew notable opposition from House Judiciary Chairman John Shott, R-Mercer, who cast his first “no” vote on a pro-gun bill, in part, because he said it will hurt the state’s ability to compete for manufacturing and chemical processing plants.

A business protection bill that businesses didn't want and a pro-gun bill one of the most pro-gun legislators thought went too far flatly should not have passed with the margins that it did, and it's disappointing that 29 Democrats in the House and 11 of the 12 in the Senate joined in helping to send the bill to Justice's desk. LEAP Forward graded actions on this bill, and this disappointment is plain to see on West Virginia's legislative scorecard

Another piece of graded legislation, SB 244, which allows concealed carry of firearms near children, is also awaiting Mr. Justice's signature, and was also passed with large margins. West Virginia's gun death rate ranks 12th nationally.