CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A bill linking “home rule” and city gun ordinances will be up for final passage in the House Thursday, though its future in the Senate uncertain.
The bills began as separate legislation, with home rule receiving Senate approval. The gun ordinance, which would force cities with stricter gun control to loosen those measures, achieved House approval early in the session.
Kanawha County Delegate Patrick Lane, who tied the bills together Wednesday with an amendment, said the two go hand in hand.
“I think [the gun ordinance] is a component of home rule,” Lane said. “If you look at the gun bill, what we’re talking about is the authority of municipalities to regulate within their boundaries beyond what has traditionally been granted to them under the state code. That is exactly what the home rule project is.”
Lane’s amendment calls for cities in the home rule program to forfeit tighter gun control. If they choose not to, they would lose their home rule status.
Four cities are currently part of the home rule pilot project: Charleston, Bridgeport, Huntington and Wheeling. Of those, only Charleston has stricter gun control ordinances than what the state mandates.
Charleston Mayor Danny Jones wants to see home rule continue but he lobbied hard this session to defeat the gun control bill in the House.
Lane said his amendment may not be popular with everyone, but he isn’t out to sabotage the home rule bill. He said if it passes the House on third reading Thursday, then it’s up to the Senate, which could choose not to take up the gun amendment.
“That sort of negotiation in between the houses goes on all the time, said Lane, pointing to a bill amended this week that ties the TIF district in Monongalia County to an increase in magistrate pay.
The legislation could force state senators’ hand when it comes to making a decision about gun control. They tabled the bill the first time around.
With only three days left in the legislative session, there’s not much time for debate.