CHARLESTON, W.Va. — State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has filed a motion to intervene and a motion to dismiss in Kanawha County Circuit Court on the City of Charleston’s lawsuit dealing with new state gun legislation.
Last month, after Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin signed SB 317 into law, the City of Charleston filed a lawsuit in Kanawha County Circuit Court asking for a declaratory judgment. City officials were seeking clarity on the portion of the law dealing with instances when people with concealed carry permits take their guns into city recreation centers.
In his filings on Thursday, Morrisey argued the lawsuit violates a rule of court procedure because Charleston has not named an opposing party in the lawsuit.
“In this lawsuit, it is the City of Charleston versus no one,” said Morrisey. “The City may have questions regarding the new law, but this is not the correct method to seek those kinds of answers.” In the motions, the AG also argued Charleston cannot seek a judge’s opinion on laws that are not being contested by two parties.
“If the City is allowed to proceed with this case, anyone in the state who doesn’t like a law could file a similar action, burdening our courts and doing great damage to our legal system,” he said.
The provision in question said 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.”
For those with the National Rifle Association, “securely storing the firearm out of view” includes a person carrying it on himself or herself, but others have disagreed with that interpretation.
Additionally, Charleston officials have said rec centers are really schools because they have Head Start and afterschool programs.
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.
Overall, SB 317 takes guns out of the Home Rule process and, instead, limits all municipalities to regulations defined already in state and federal gun laws. Supporters said it brings more uniformity to gun regulations across West Virginia.