CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Members of the House of Delegates will next consider the bill that would limit what cities can do to regulate gun purchases, but allow municipalities to set their own rules on where guns can be carried on government property.
On Tuesday afternoon, the full Senate unanimously approved the proposal that Senate President Jeff Kessler (D-Marshall, 2) said would, in most cases, set up a uniform set of gun laws in all of West Virginia.
When it comes to the purchases of firearms, “They couldn’t enact any ordinances in excess or greater than that provided by state or federal law,” said Kessler.
In last year’s Home Rule legislation, there were limits to what gun ordinances cities could implement while part of the Home Rule Pilot Program, which was designed to give local officials more local control.
SB 317 takes firearms completely out of the Home Rule process and, instead, requires all municipalities to follow state and federal gun laws. All past grandfather clauses dealing with city gun laws have been removed as well.
Additionally, though, the proposal does allow cities to decide where people with concealed carry permits can take their guns on government property.
“I think it’s better to have a uniform system of laws, rather than each city potentially having a different patchwork,” said Kessler on Tuesday’s MetroNews “Talkline” of the part of the bill that deals with gun purchases.
In the Capitol City, gun buyers are currently limited to one gun purchase a month with a mandatory three day waiting period – a stricter standard than what the state and some surrounding municipalities require.
Charleston Mayor Danny Jones said, even before Tuesday’s vote, he knew Charleston’s more restrictive gun regulations would have to be changed.
However, he’s critical of lawmakers who, he said, have been missing the major issue of the entire 2014 Regular Legislative Session.
“I think they’re whole direction is completely wrong. I mean — guns, abortion, gays — it’s the same old stuff. The number one resource in West Virginia is not coal or gas, it’s water and that the whole session should have been focused on that,” said Jones.
The bill written as a response to the Jan. 9 chemical leak in Kanawha County, setting up a regulatory framework for above ground storage tanks, is still pending in the House Judiciary Committee.
The last day of the 2014 Regular Legislative Session will be on Saturday, March 8.