By WV Attorney General Patrick Morrisey
The right of American citizens to keep and bear arms is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, and those who choose to lawfully exercise this right should be at liberty to do so.
Firearms play an important role in daily life for many West Virginians. The beautiful Mountain State is home to many who use their guns to hunt, for sport or to protect their homes.
No matter the reason an individual has for owning a firearm, the laws of the land — in no uncertain terms — state they may do so.
Perhaps one of the most important phrases in the Constitution with regards to gun ownership is the very clear provision that this right “shall not be infringed.”
Someone needs to highlight those four words for the current presidential administration, one that stands poised to restrict lawful gun ownership like no U.S. President has done before.
The Biden Administration has already urged enactment of new “red flag” laws, which can allow the confiscation of firearms without due process, and proposed broadening the definition of short-barreled rifles and adding even more burdensome background checks to those already in place.
Our office led a 20-state coalition in urging the U.S. Supreme Court to review a lower court ruling that allowed federal regulators—without congressional action—to outlaw bump stocks, a popular, legal rifle accessory that aids gun owners with limited hand mobility.
Criminalizing ownership of legally purchased bump stocks would result in more than 500,000 of these devices being destroyed or surrendered by their owners. The new regulation allows the Biden Administration to impose serious fines and imprisonment for anyone possessing such a firearm accessory.
Our office is also leading a 20-state coalition in pushing back against another onerous proposal by the Biden Administration, one that greatly expands the authority of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and expands the definition of a receiver, the already heavily regulated part of a firearm that houses its firing mechanism.
Myself and other state attorneys general argue that President Biden’s new rule could put many parts manufacturers out of business and that it improperly grants bureaucrats at the ATF unconstitutional and unrestrained discretion over which parts are subject to regulation and criminalization.
We have also urged the U.S. Supreme Court, in concert with 24 state attorneys general, to push back against a court ruling that would permit states to outlaw ammunition magazines that are currently legal in more than half the nation, including West Virginia.
Our office fervently fights to protect the Second Amendment rights of responsible gun owners. We have expanded our concealed carry reciprocity agreements with numerous states, allowing West Virginians with concealed handgun licenses to lawfully cross state lines with their firearms.
Gun violence and the senseless death attributed to it should pain all Americans. However, the malevolent acts of a select few should never be a catalyst for stripping law-abiding masses of their Constitutional rights, especially their right to self-defense and to bear arms.
I will not allow the far left to run roughshod over our citizens’ gun rights. If President Biden follows through on his overbroad and far-reaching proposals, we will take swift legal action.
We must tell President Biden we want no part of his proposed gun grab and stand firm on defending the Constitutional rights of our citizens to help West Virginia reach her full potential.
Patrick Morrisey is the Attorney General of West Virginia.