Charleston mayor makes an offer to try to stop controversial gun bill

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Charleston Mayor Danny Jones is proposing a compromise with lawmakers in an attempt to keep a controversial gun bill from passing — as is — before the end of the 2014 Regular Legislative Session on Saturday.

In exchange for dropping a provision in that bill, SB 317, Jones said Charleston would immediately take its 1993 ordinance that requires a three day waiting period to buy a gun in city limits and allows only one gun purchase a month off the books.

Jones opposes the provision in the proposed bill that would let people with concealed carry permits bring guns into recreation facilities like city swimming pools, rec centers, sports facilities with afterschool programs or other sites where “children are regularly present.”

“To put guns in our rec centers is, and that’s exactly what the bill says it would do, we think is completely over the top and represents a danger to the existence of these rec centers,” said Jones.

The bill reads as follows: “A municipality may not prohibit a person with a valid concealed handgun permit from carrying an otherwise lawfully possessed 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.”

The bill does allow cities to enact their own ordinances to keep people with concealed carry permits from taking their guns in courthouses, city halls, convention centers, administrative buildings or other similar municipal buildings.

As part of that bill, which takes gun regulations out of the Home Rule Pilot Program, any additional city gun regulations could not go beyond what state and federal law already allows.

Mayor Jones presented the proposal to members of Charleston’s City Council during Monday night’s meeting.

“We consider this Senate bill very hostile to our city.  We know this is about Charleston,” said Jones.

He said the deal he’s offering would address a number of issues.  “The NRA gets its pound of flesh, so does the Legislature and we can minimize the damage that’s being done here and, maybe, give the Legislature a way out of doing something that’s clearly reckless,” said Jones.

It was not immediately clear if lawmakers were willing to take the Jones deal.

SB 317 is pending in the House Judiciary Committee.

The Senate unanimously approved the proposal last week.  At that time, Senate President Jeff Kessler (D-Marshall, 2) said it would establish a uniform set of gun laws for all of West Virginia.

This year’s regular session ends on Saturday night.

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