ST. CLAIRSVILLE - Before she moved to rural Belmont County last year, the only weapon Amy Pellegrini had ever fired was a BB gun, as a kid.
But news in July of a mass shooting at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater - and the increased conversation about gun control that followed - got her thinking about her own safety.
So, when her husband decided to get a concealed carry permit that was good in Ohio, where his Pennsylvania permit isn't recognized, she decided it was time for her to get one, too.
Amy Pellegrini aims a handgun while her husband, Dick, watches outside the coupleás St.Clairsville-area home. Both recently obtained their Ohio concealed carry permits.
Photo by Ian Hicks
"I wanted to get one because of all the things in the news anymore," she said.
Dick Pellegrini, a hunter for more than 30 years and concealed carry permit holder for about 10, couldn't have been more supportive of his wife's decision.
"I thought it was great. ... Unfortunately, today, I think you have to be very aware of what's going on around you," he said.
Once they decided to take the course together, Dick Pellegrini began teaching Amy the basics of shooting, letting her fire off some rounds on their 78 acres of land outside St. Clairsville.
When holding a loaded pistol for the first time, "I was a little nervous at first," she admitted. But she surprised herself with how quickly she became comfortable with it.
The Pellegrinis took the required National Rifle Association-certified firearms training course from Mark Busack of Wheeling over two weekends in October. Sessions included eight hours of classroom training and four hours on the shooting range, and Amy said she was the only woman in the class.
Course topics include parts of a gun and proper handling. To obtain certification, students must pass a test on which they identify gun parts, answer true-or-false questions and explain what they would do in a given situation.
They also must demonstrate proficiency by hitting a target a minimum of 10 out of 20 times to pass the course.
"She outshot most of the guys in the class," Dick Pellegrini said of his wife.
It's a skill she hopes she never has to employ in a real-life situation. But for Amy, her decision to get a permit is affirmed every time she hears of someone killed or seriously injured by gunfire.
"Every time I read the paper I'm more glad I've done it," she said.
Dick Pellegrini agreed, acknowledging there's a peace of mind that comes with knowing his wife can protect herself in a dangerous situation.
"If I'm not home and someone would break in, she can handle herself with a pistol," he said.
The permitting process for concealed carry is similar in West Virginia and Ohio.
Applicants must bring identification and proof of completion of the training course to their local sheriff's department, and they will receive a permit upon payment of a fee, subject to passing a background check.
One difference between the two states is that Ohio law requires a concealed carry permit holder to promptly inform police he or she has such a permit when approached by an officer. West Virginia has no such law.
West Virginia honors permits issued by the states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Missouri, Michigan, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah, Arizona and Alaska. All of those states also honor West Virginia permits.
States that honor West Virginia permits, but from which permits are not honored by West Virginia, include Vermont, Indiana, Kansas, Nevada, Idaho and Montana.
Ohio honors concealed carry permits issued by West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia, Michigan, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Arizona and Alaska. All those states honor Ohio permits, as well.
States that honor Ohio permits, but from which permits are not honored by Ohio, include Vermont, Indiana, Kansas, Nevada, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico and South Dakota.