Gun ordinance uniformity bill passes WV House - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Gun ordinance uniformity bill passes WV House

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Gun laws in West Virginia may soon become a little clearer.

The West Virginia House of Delegates on March 11 passed legislation that would create a uniform regulation of firearms, ammunition and firearms accessories across the state, nullifying local ordinances. Currently, the cities of Charleston and Dunbar have their own gun ordinances. In Charleston, buyers may purchase only one handgun per month and are subject to a three-day waiting period before receiving the gun. As Delegate Justin Marcum, D-Mingo, pointed out, that's unfair to rural counties.

"That's a long drive down Corridor G for a law-abiding citizen who comes up here to spend money purchasing a gun and having to come back three days later," Marcum said. "Rural West Virginia has different dynamics."

Charleston's Southridge Center, located on Corridor G, is the site of two large gun stores — Gander Mountain and Cabela's. The stores often offer guns at cheaper prices than what can be found in smaller gun stores, and Marcum said the city's current law puts an unfair burden on rural gun owners.

"It's a fairness issue for the entire state," he said.

However, some Charleston delegates were opposed to abolishing the city's ordinance. Delegates Nancy Guthrie and Meshea Poore, both D-Kanawha, spoke in opposition of the bill, saying there is more to the issue.

"Normally we don't take up gun bills unless law enforcement has a reason to want something. We never got that," Guthrie said after the vote. "And I also know that the City of Charleston, Dunbar and St. Albans ... it looks to me like some of the municipalities, they haven't abused the privilege they've had."

Poore was concerned about drugs.

"We are going to be looking at a lot of legislation throughout this session on substance abuse," Poore said. "One thing I know for certain is substance abuse is a problem throughout the state. It affects your homes and your counties no matter how rural or how urban they are. When someone can get drugs in replacement of a cheap gun, start thinking about how it affects your children.

"Start thinking about when you're walking to the receptions they offer us and you have late hours at the office here. How safe is it really going to be? We all have children we represent. So I am proudly going to vote no on this bill, not because I'm against Second Amendment rights, but because I care about my district and the children who walk the streets of my district and because I care about you."

Guthrie and Poore were two of four delegates to vote against the bill. Delegates Danny Wells, D-Kanawha, and Stephen Skinner, D-Jefferson, also voted against the legislation.

Charleston Mayor Danny Jones issued a news release responding to the vote, saying his administration steadfastly opposes the bill.

"We are aware of the fact that House of Delegates voted to pass H.B. 2760 today, and we remain opposed to the bill," Jones said in the news release. "This legislation is a lot more complicated than just the pre-emption of Charleston's gun ordinance. This is a multi-page bill that seeks to do much more than that, and yet that was the only topic discussed on the floor."

Jones will host a news conference March 12 "to discuss the issue in more detail."

House Bill 2760 is just one of many guns bills moving through the Legislature. In February, the House passed a bill to prevent the seizure of firearms during a declared state of emergency. An average of one firearms-related bill is introduced in the House of Delegates each day. But Delegate John McCuskey, R-Kanawha, said that's the wrong way to go.

"There are too many guns bills and not enough jobs bills," he said.

HB 2760 passed the House 94-4 and will now go to the Senate.