Municipal gun legislation passes the House by large margin - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Municipal gun legislation passes full Legislature, awaits action from governor

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When it comes to the issue of municipal firearms, Senate Bill 317 has completed the legislative process, but Delegate Meshea Poore, D-Kanawha, said many questions are still left unanswered.

During the last day of the 2014 legislative session, March 8, Poore spoke about why she would vote against the bill.

The bill would uniformly streamline the regulation and application of current gun laws in the Mountain State, specifically targeting municipalities.

Under the measure, current gun laws municipalities have enacted under the Home Rule Pilot Program would be wiped out, and it would prohibit any new gun laws that would conflict with current state laws from being enacted under the Home Rule Pilot Program.

However, municipalities would be able to limit the possession of firearms in municipal buildings and property. Depending on the municipal building or area, guns are either prohibited, can by carried with a conceal permit or locked in a secure area upon entrance.

Because "secure area" was not adequately defined and how and who in regards to the regulation of the gun itself was not better explained, Poore said she could not vote in favor of the proposed legislation, saying the "one-size-fits-all" approach would not work.

The bill passed the House by a vote of 92 to five.

After passing the bill, Charleston Major Danny Jones expressed his concerns with the legislation.

"It is absolutely disgraceful that the West Virginia Legislature cares more about taking its direction from the NRA than keeping handguns away from children at rec centers in Charleston and throughout West Virginia," Jones said.  "The bill even defines rec centers as places where children are often present, and yet it still says cities and towns cannot stop people from bringing handguns into them." 

While the bill allows the state and county governments to prohibit guns in their government buildings, it specifically said city and town governments cannot keep people with concealed carry permits from bringing their guns into recreational centers, according to the mayor.  

"We have a federally-funded Head Start program in our King Center, day cares and after school programs where hundreds of children are every day and every week," Jones added. "But at the bidding of the NRA and other pack-heat-everywhere lobbyists, our Legislature just voted to introduce handguns into the midst of many young children.

"These legislators have had years to take action to protect water as our state's most important natural resource from nearby chemical tanks, and yet they finally took action this year almost as an afterthought after it was too late," he explained.  "But instead their focus has been on gun bills and social issues.  Last year, in fact, they didn't pass a single bill to protect our water supply while they happily passed seven pro-gun bills."