CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Charleston Mayor Danny Jones is waging a war on a gun bill that passed the state Legislature on Saturday. It allows those with conceal carry permits to bring a gun into city recreation centers, swimming pools and municipal parks. Jones fired off the first shot Tuesday.
“We’re not going to provide lockers for guns. We’re not going into the gun business,” stressed Jones. “If [Del.] Tim Manchin or Senator [John] Unger or one of the other people down there want to come to work the door at our rec center and collect guns, they can do it. We’re not doing it!”
Jones stood outside the Martin Luther King, Jr. Recreation Center in downtown Charleston Tuesday morning backed by several city and community leaders who are against the bill. Rev. Matthew Watts, of Grace Bible Church, was one of them.
“We believe this legislation is insensitive at best but it also borderlines on being irresponsible and somewhat reckless because this is a safe haven for children,” Watts said of the community center.
Jones said the bill might not be racist but it is about class.
“Can you imagine if there was a rec center up there next to Holz Elementary or Overbrook Elementary or any of the schools in the more high-income neighborhoods and all the sudden they were ordered you have to let guns in there,” said Jones. “Can you imagine what the uproar would be?”
He said the city’s rec centers are located in urban areas where those with lower incomes bring their children for community events and after-school program. He said the argument that there are already guns in those areas doesn’t fly.
“I know that illegal guns have been here. We understand all that argument. That’s one thing,” stressed Jones. “It’s another thing for the state to actually sanction the carrying of pistols in this rec center!”
Jones said the one thing that could keep guns out of the King Center is a sign that hangs above the door. It reads, “Kanawha County Schools Head Start.”
Jones said the law is very clear, guns cannot be present on school property.
Meanwhile, Rev. Watts urged people all across the state to take a stand against guns in places where children congregate.
“We think our legislators are really out of touch on this. We make a strong appeal to our Governor Earl Ray Tomblin to veto this bill!”
Jones said unless someone speaks out the bill will be signed into law. The mayor has already spoken to Governor Tomblin about his concerns.