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Pistol Permit Fund
Rise In Applications Means More Money For County Sheriffs
April 30, 2013

C L I C K   T O   P L A Y
More and more people want the right to carry a concealed weapon. Whether they're worried about safety or the government eventually restricting those rights permit applications in West Virginia are up.

Kanawha County has about $150,000 in its pistol fund.

West Virginia law gives county sheriffs broad discretion on how they spend that money.

Recently, Kanawha County dipped into the fund to give deputies a one-time $1000 payment.

"The deputies have to buy certain equipment such as knives to help free people from car accidents and they purchase those items," Kanawha County Sheriff John Rutherford said. "We've used the pistol permit money to actually reimburse them for those expenses."

Although the law gives Rutherford the right to spend the pistol fund money just about any way he wants, he chooses to use the system. Rutherford steers his purchases through the county clerk's office and the county commission. It creates a paper trail and is a fairly transparent process.

"Sheriff Rutherford when he first took office and Chief Rutherford both decided that they were not going to spend public money without transparency," Kanawha County Commissioner Kent Carper said. "Other counties, we've seen very disappointing use of public funds."

"It used to be that the sheriff would write a check for whatever he wanted," Rutherford said. "We took our pistol permit money and actually put it into the budget, per se. And all of our purchases go through the county commission, so the county commission views them to make sure we're not wasting money. But we wouldn't waste money. We have too many needs to keep the deputies safe to do that."

Carper says he thinks it would be better if each county followed Kanawha example of how to handle the concealed weapons permit cash.

"I think it ought to be the law," Carper said. "In fact, we went to the legislature and asked them to make the law and we were turned down. It's a very wise decision. Truth of the matter is, the best antiseptic for misuse of public funds is a bright light."

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