Senate Bill No. 284
(Senators Nohe, Plymale, Sypolt, Walters, Blair, Williams,
Prezioso and D. Hall, original sponsors)
[Passed March 12, 2015; in effect ninety days from passage.]
AN ACT to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new section, designated §61-7-16, relating to dangerous weapons generally; requiring certification of responsible persons seeking federal authorization to possess certain firearms by a chief law-enforcement officer when person is not legally proscribed therefrom; clarifying what criteria may be considered when certification is sought from law enforcement that applicant is not prohibited from securing or possessing firearms covered by the National Firearms Act; defining terms; and allowing circuit court appeals or adverse decisions.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended by adding thereto a new section, designated §61-7-16, to read as follows:
ARTICLE 7. DANGEROUS WEAPONS.
§61-7-16. Chief officer certification to transfer or make certain firearms; definitions; appeal.
(a) When certification of a chief law-enforcement officer is required by federal law or regulation for the making, transfer, receipt or possession of a firearm, the chief law-enforcement officer shall, within thirty days of receipt of such a request, provide such certification upon determining that to his or her knowledge the applicant is not prohibited by federal, state or local law from making, transferring, receiving or possessing the firearm for which application is being made and is not the subject of a proceeding that could result in the applicant being prohibited by law from receiving or possessing a firearm. If the chief law-enforcement officer is unable to make a certification as contemplated by this section, he or she shall provide the applicant written notification of the action setting forth the reasons therefor.
(b) For purposes of this section:
(1) “Chief law-enforcement officer” means any official, or his or her designee, that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or any successor agency, identifies by regulation or otherwise as eligible to provide the required law-enforcement certification for the making, transfer, receipt or possession of a firearm.
(2) “Certification” means written confirmation by the chief law-enforcement officer necessary under federal law that the applicant seeking to make, transfer, receive or possess a firearm is not to the chief law-enforcement officer’s knowledge prohibited by federal, state or local law from making, transferring, receiving or possessing the designated firearm.
(3) “Firearm” has the same meaning as provided in the National Firearms Act, 26 U. S. C. §5845 (a).
(c) Chief law-enforcement officers and their designees who act in good faith are immune from liability arising from any act or omission related to certifying a responsible person.
(d) An applicant whose request for certification is denied may appeal the chief law-enforcement officer’s decision to the circuit court of the applicant’s county of residence. If the circuit court finds that the applicant is not prohibited by law from making, transferring, receiving or possessing a firearm and is not the subject of a proceeding that could result in prohibition, the circuit court shall order the chief law-enforcement officer to issue the certification and may award costs and reasonable attorney’s fees to the applicant.
(e) A generalized objection to persons or entities making, transferring, receiving or possessing firearms or particular types of firearms which may be lawfully made, transferred, received or possessed does not constitute a valid basis for refusing certification.
(f) In making the certification decision the chief law-enforcement officer shall require of the applicant only such information as is necessary to identify the applicant for purposes of this section or to determine the disposition of an arrest or proceeding relevant to the applicant’s eligibility to lawfully possess or receive a firearm.