Gun law triggers controversy from community - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Gun law triggers controversy from community

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Keith Haynes goes to the South Charleston Community Center several days a week to workout and socialize with friends.

"I think it's safe," he said. "I feel like it is safe."

But when asked if he thinks guns should be allowed in the recreational center he said, "I think that would be crazy."

On Tuesday West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin signed Senate Bill 317 into law. It allows people with concealed carry permits to bring guns into city owned recreational facilities, such as the gym at the South Charleston Community Center and the after school program at the Martin Luther King Recreational Center.

The law also requires those with a concealed carry permit to secure those guns out of view and inaccessible to others.

Charleston Mayor Danny Jones has been opposed to the measure since it was first introduced during the 2014 regular legislative session. He said the law has too many loopholes and can be dangerous for places like the city's West Side.

"To us it sends a negative message and it could cause a lot of trouble," he said.

According to the Charleston Police Department, there have been several crimes committed with guns in the city's recreational centers. In the past ten years, there have been three crimes committed at the Charleston Civic Center. In the past ten years, there have been eight crimes committed at the King Center involving a firearm.

"It's a misdemeanor to have a gun up there on state capitol property. It's a misdemeanor to carry one on the building no matter what kind of permit you have. It's time they change their laws. It's time they change their rules. Let's put guns in the state capitol. If they're going to put them in our buildings they need to put them in their own," said Jones.  

The goal of the new law is to create uniform gun laws throughout the Mountain State.

Al Osborne, the morning manager at the South Charleston Community Center, said he would not mind if those with concealed carry permits brought guns into the center.

"In the day we're living in, I think it's good to carry a gun because there are some crazy people out there," he said.