West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals justices - as well as circuit and family court judges and magistrates - could carry guns into their courtrooms under legislation introduced Monday by Delegate Erikka Storch.
State law prohibits any person from possessing a firearm or any other deadly weapon onto property which houses a court of law, or into the offices of a family law master court judge.
Law enforcement officers acting in their official capacity are exempted.
House Bill 2889 - introduced Monday by Storch, R-Ohio - would add Supreme Court justices, circuit court judges, family court judges and magistrates possessing concealed carry permits to the list of those permitted to bring weapons into courtrooms.
The measure has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee, and already has among its sponsors judiciary committee chairman Tim Miley, D-Harrison, vice chairman Tim Manchin, D-Marion, and Mark Hunt, D-Kanawha, chairman of the House Political Subdivisions Committee.
Other co-sponsors include delegates Gary Howell, R-Mineral; Eric Nelson, R-Kanawha; John Shott, R-Mercer; John McCuskey, R-Kanawha; and Bob Ashley, R-Roane.
"It took me a little longer to introduce the bill because I was seeking out strategic bipartisan support," Storch said.
She noted she had a conversation with the Supreme Court justices, who expressed a need for judges to have guns in the courtroom.
"They indicated to me they would make an order (permitting judges to have guns in the courtroom) if something was not done," Storch said.
Judges do not need a concealed carry permit to carry a gun, though magistrates must apply for one.
House Bill 2552, introduced this session by Delegate Randy Swartzmiller, D-Hancock, would add magistrates to the list of occupations not requiring a license to carry a concealed weapon.