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Introduced Version Senate Bill 370 History

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Senate Bill No. 370

(By Senators Unger, Kessler (Mr. President), Browning, Klempa and Laird)

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[Introduced January 20, 2012; referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.]

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A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new section, designated §61-7-16, relating to the transport and storage of firearms in private vehicles; definition; providing that rules or policies shall not be established that prohibit a person’s lawful transport or storage of a firearm or ammunition; civil actions for violations; recovery for employees discharged for violation of rule or policy prohibited by section; limitation on liability; and exemptions.

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. Transport and storage of firearms in private vehicles.

    (a) As used in this section, "motor vehicle" means any automobile, truck, minivan, sports utility vehicle, motorcycle, motor scooter, or any other vehicle required to be registered under state law when operated on the highways of this state.

    (b) Except as otherwise provided in this section, a business entity, owner, manager, or legal possessor of real property, or public or private employer may not establish, maintain, or enforce a policy or rule that prohibits or has the effect of prohibiting a person's otherwise lawful transportation or storage of a firearm or ammunition when:

    (1) The firearm or ammunition:

    (A) Is kept from ordinary observation within the person's attended, privately-owned motor vehicle; or

    (B) Is kept from ordinary observation and locked within the trunk, glove box, or interior of the person's privately-owned motor vehicle or a container securely affixed to such vehicle; and

    (2) The vehicle is operated or parked in a location where it is otherwise permitted to be.

    (c) A person who is injured or incurs damages, or the survivors of a person killed, as a result of a violation of subsection (b) may bring a civil action in the appropriate court against any business entity, owner, manager, or legal possessor of real property, or public or private employer who committed or caused the violation. A person who is denied the opportunity to transport or store a firearm or ammunition by a policy or rule prohibited by subsection (b), may bring a civil action in the appropriate court to enjoin any business entity, owner, manager, or legal possessor of real property, or public or private employer from violating subsection (b). In any actions brought pursuant to this section, court costs and attorney fees shall be awarded to the prevailing plaintiff.

    (d) An employee discharged by a public or private employer for a violation of a policy or rule prohibited by subsection (b) is entitled to full recovery as specified in subdivisions (1) to (4), inclusive, of this subsection. If demand for the recovery has not been satisfied within forty-five calendar days, the employee may bring a civil action in the appropriate court of this state against the public or private employer and is entitled to the following:

    (1) Reinstatement to the same position held at the time of his or her termination from employment, or to an equivalent position;

    (2) Reinstatement of the employee's full fringe benefits and seniority rights, as appropriate;

    (3) Compensation, if appropriate, for lost wages, benefits, or other lost remuneration caused by the termination; and

    (4) Payment of reasonable attorney fees and legal costs incurred.

    (e) No business entity, owner, manager, or legal possessor of real property, or public or private employer shall be held liable in any civil action for damages, injuries, or death resulting from or arising out of another person's actions involving a firearm or ammunition transported or stored pursuant to subsection (b), including, but not limited to, the theft of a firearm from an employee's or invitee's automobile, unless the business entity, owner, manager, or legal possessor of real property, or public or private employer intentionally solicited or procured the other person's injurious actions.  (f) The prohibitions in subsection (b) do not apply if:

    (1) The motor vehicle is on the grounds of an owner-occupied single-family detached residence or a tenant-occupied single-family detached residence;

    (2) The motor vehicle is an employer-owned motor vehicle being used during and in the course of an employee's duties on behalf of the employer;

    (3) The motor vehicle is on the grounds of any public or private primary or secondary school, including any vocational education facility where secondary vocational education programs are conducted, unless it is operated and attended by a person twenty-one years of age or older who is temporarily on the grounds for the purpose of picking up or dropping off a student who is attending classes or participating in an activity at the school or vocational education facility; or

    (4) The motor vehicle is located in any place where firearms are prohibited by federal law; or

    (5) The motor vehicle is located on the grounds of any facility owned or operated by the Division of Corrections, the Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority or the Division of Juvenile Services.

    (g) This section applies notwithstanding, and is specifically intended to control any contrary provisions or applications of:

    (1) Subsection (g) of section eleven-a of this article (premises which house courts of law or offices of family master);

    (2) Section fourteen of this article (right of any owner, lessee or other person charged with the care, custody and control of real property to prohibit the carrying of any firearm on property under his or her domain);

    (3) Section three, article three-b of this chapter (trespass on property other than structure or conveyance);

    (4) Section five, article three-b of this chapter (trespass on state government property);

    (5) Subsection (b) of section nineteen, article six of this chapter (state capitol complex);

    (6) Any rule or policy established by the Division of Veterans Affairs under section 3, article two of chapter nine-a (see W. Va. Code St. R. §86-1-5.3.7., authorizing transporting or possessing weaponry on the ground of State Home for Veterans);

    (7) Any rule or policy established by the Higher Education Policy Commission, Council for Community and Technical College Education, or the governing board of any institution of higher learning under articles one, one-b one-d, two-a, two-b, two-c and four of chapter eighteen-b (governance of institutions of higher learning); and

    (8) Any rule or policy established by the Division of National Resources under section seven, article one of chapter twenty (see W. Va. Code R. §58-31-2.14, generally prohibiting uncased firearms in state parks, state forests, and state wildlife management areas, and on state trails).

    (h) It is the intent of this section to reinforce and protect the right of each citizen lawfully to transport and store firearms within his or her private motor vehicle for lawful purposes in any place where the vehicle is otherwise permitted to be. This section is to be liberally construed to effectuate this purpose.



    NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to protect the lawful transport and storage of firearms in private vehicles.


    This section is new; therefore, strike-throughs and underscoring have been omitted.

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