On Dec. 14, 2012, a nightmare became reality when a man fatally shot 20 schoolchildren and six adult staff members and wounded two others at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
Since then, the search for answers has been the top priority virtually everywhere, including Capitol Hill, where lawmakers have been looking at gun control within the nation.
On Wednesday, Vice President Joe Biden heard personal stories of gun violence from representatives of victims groups and gun-safety organizations as part of drafting the Obama administration’s response to the shooting.
“I want to make it clear that we are not going to get caught up in the notion (that) unless we can do everything we’re going to do nothing,” Biden said. “It’s critically important (that) we act.”
The meeting was part of a series Biden is holding this week to build consensus around proposals to curb gun violence.
President Barack Obama wants Biden to deliver policy proposals by the end of the month. Obama has vowed to move swiftly on the package, which is expected to include legislative proposals and executive action.
On Dec. 19, the Daily News asked its readers to give us their opinion on the matter of gun control in our online poll, with the question:
“In the wake of the Connecticut school shooting, do you support the proposal of new gun laws?”
Votes have since been tallied and the results showed that people were overwhelmingly against the proposal of any new gun control laws, with 65 percent of participants feeling that way.
Another 30 percent of polltakers did support proposing new gun laws, while 5 percent were unsure and 1 percent did not care either way.
Current West Virginia gun laws are as follows for both long guns (rifles and shotguns) and handguns:
• Permit to purchase required — No to both.
• Firearm registration — No to both.
• Owner license required — No to both.
• Carry permits issued — No to long guns, yes to handguns. (West Virginia is a “shall issue” state for concealed carry.)
• Open carry permitted — No to long guns, yes to handguns (Open carry is generally permitted, but some local restrictions still exist.)
• State preemption of local restrictions — Yes to both.
• “Assault weapons” law — No to both.
• NFA (National Firearms Act) weapons restricted — No to both.
There are no prohibited firearms by State law and private sales of firearms, including handguns, are legal and do not require the seller to perform a background check. It is however, unlawful to sell firearms to a prohibited person. Purchasing from dealers require a check through the National Instant Criminal Background Check (NICS).
West Virginia also has a castle doctrine, enacted April 10, 2008, a law that states that “reasonable and proportionate force may be used to protect one’s self or another from an intruder or attacker while lawfully in one’s residence or that of another.”
In other words, a person has no duty to retreat if in the home.
“Reasonable and proportionate force, including deadly force, may be used against an intruder or attacker by one not engaged in unlawful activity in any place other than a home or residence where the person reasonably believes the intruder or attacker intends to kill or inflict serious bodily harm; establishing that use of reasonable and proportionate force to defend oneself is a full and complete defense civilly to an action brought by an intruder or attacker based upon the use of such force; and exceptions,” the bill states.
Kentucky gun laws are similar to West Virginia’s, with minor differences:
In the Bluegrass State, open carry is permitted for both long guns and handguns without a permit or license; there are state preemption of local restrictions; and Kentucky has no peaceable journey laws.
While not having a castle law, Kentucky does have a stand-your-ground-law, which is similar but states that a person has no duty to retreat, regardless of where an attack takes place.
The Kentucky State law reads:
“(1) The use of physical force by a defendant upon another person is justifiable when the defendant believes that such force is immediately necessary to prevent:
(a) The commission of criminal trespass, robbery, burglary, or other felony involving the use of force, or under those circumstances permitted pursuant to KRS 503.055, in a dwelling, building or upon real property in his possession or in the possession of another person for whose protection he acts; or
(b) Theft, criminal mischief, or any trespassory taking of tangible, movable property in his possession or in the possession of another person for whose protection he acts.
(2) The use of deadly physical force by a defendant upon another person is justifiable under subsection (1) only when the defendant believes that the person against whom such force is used is:
(a) Attempting to dispossess him of his dwelling otherwise than under a claim of right to its possession; or
(b) Committing or attempting to commit a burglary, robbery, or other felony involving the use of force, or under those circumstances permitted pursuant to KRS 503.055, of such dwelling; or
(c) Committing or attempting to commit arson of a dwelling or other building in his possession.
(3) A person does not have a duty to retreat if the person is in a place where he or she has a right to be.”
While there is no right or wrong answer to the question of supporting or not supporting the proposal of new gun laws, the topic will certainly remain a subject of debate for lawmakers.
Our readers are invited to participate in the Daily News’ next poll, which can be found right now at williamsondailynews.com:
“How do you feel about the new MTV reality show ‘Buckwild,’ a program about young people in West Virginia? Is the show good, bad, harmless, or do you have no opinion?”