WV gun rights organization sues Charleston over city handgun ord - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

WV gun rights organization sues Charleston over city handgun ordinances

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A West Virginia gun rights organization has filed an injunction against the city of Charleston to try and stop the city from enforcing its waiting period and handgun limit. A West Virginia gun rights organization has filed an injunction against the city of Charleston to try and stop the city from enforcing its waiting period and handgun limit.

A West Virginia gun rights organization has filed an injunction against the city of Charleston to try and stop the city from enforcing its waiting period and handgun limit.

Keith Morgan, president of the West Virginia Citizens Defense League, said the group is hoping to force the city to abandon its handgun ordinances in light of a new state law.

Earlier this year the state legislature approved a law taking the power to regulate guns away from individual cities. According to lawmakers, the purpose and goal is to create uniform gun laws throughout the state.

The city of Charleston passed its ordinances in the early 1990s, which include restricting firearms from public places and limiting handgun purchases to one a month within city limits.

Morgan said the city is now in violation of the state law, which is why his group filed an injunction.

The ordinances "are completely pointless," Morgan said. "All they do is punish law-abiding gun owners. These ordinances are punishing the citizens of Charleston."

Charleston's ordinances were passed by the city council nearly three decades ago to stop local straw purchases of guns. The rules include limiting how many handguns someone can purchase within city limits and require those purchasing pistols to wait 3 days. The ordinances have never applied to shotguns, assault rifles or other rifles.

"Everyday we have people looking at handguns. We do tell them [about the ordinances] right before they start looking," said Chavela Simmons, owner of All-N-One pawn shop located in Kanawha City. "You can walk off with all three of these [assault rifles] today but you can only buy one of these [two shot handguns] every 30 days."

Charleston's handgun ordinances only apply within city limits. Therefore, Charleston residents can travel to other cities or towns and skip the waiting period and limit.

"From here we can drive to Marmet and purchase a handgun, fill out the proper paperwork and take it with us right out the store," said Shane Walker, who was at the All-N-One pawn shop. "If I want a handgun and I don't want to wait three days, I don't have to buy it in Charleston."

Charleston's mayor Danny Jones said he did not want to specifically comment on the injunction. However, he said the city receives lawsuits all of the time and these handgun ordinances have been followed for years.

When state officials passed the state-wide gun law they tied it into the home rule, which allows cities to enact their own taxes and other localized regulations. In order for cities to qualify for the home rule, they must give up their specific gun laws.

Consequently, Charleston city officials will need to decide if they want to drop the home rule in order to keep their city gun laws in force.