MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — The city attorney in Martinsburg says two proposed ordinances Martinsburg’s City Council will take up Thursday are designed to bring the Berkeley County city into compliance with the new state law addressing municipal gun regulations.
“We’re trying to figure out what’s the best for the city and for the citizens of how to deal with this new law without getting ourselves in dutch with it and, the next thing you know, we’re part of another lawsuit,” said Kin Sayre.
The two proposed ordinances separately address gun regulations for government buildings and for city-owned recreation facilities. Sayre, though, said the new law is not clear in several areas, especially when it comes to the rec centers.
As the law reads, a municipality cannot keep a person with a valid concealed carry permit from carrying a lawfully owned firearm into a municipally owned recreation facility and “securely storing the firearm out of view and access to others during their time at the municipally owned recreation facility.”
“We are not 100 percent sure what that means,” Sayre said of that provision on Tuesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”
Those with the National Rifle Association, that group that pushed for the recreation center language, said the provision means a person with a concealed carry permit can take their gun into the rec facility, but it would have to be secured, either in a locker or on their person.
Several state lawmakers and others have disagreed with that interpretation.
In Martinsburg, “The (proposed) ordinance would only prohibit the open carrying or unlawfully concealed carrying into the recreational facility,” Sayre said. “We’ve tried to decide — does that mean that we have to provide lockers or does that mean lockers inside the dressing room or is it securely stored upon a person?”
City officials in Martinsburg are not alone in their confusion. The City of Charleston has already filed for a declaratory judgment, seeking clarity, in Kanawha County Circuit Court on the rec center provision in the law.
The law does let cities enact and enforce ordinances that prohibit or regulate the carrying or possessing of firearms in municipally owned or operated government buildings.