Morgantown council adopts gun ban ordinance

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Morgantown City Council narrowly approved a measure prohibiting guns in municipal buildings and on city-owned property.

The ordinance, passed in a four to three vote Tuesday, Feb. 21, was adopted despite an attempt to at least amend the proposal’s effective date.

Since late 2016, council’s vote has been split the same for each reading regarding a gun ban.

At a December 2016 meeting certain sections of the original ordinance were amended before passing on a 4-3 vote. Councilors Jenny Selin, Nancy Ganz, Marti Shamberger and Bill Kawecki voted in favor of the measure while Ron Bane, Wes Nugent and Jay Redmond opposed it.

Part of the amendment reworded the ordinance to prohibit conceal carry permit holders from  taking a firearm into city-owned buildings.

Between December and the Feb. 7, 2017 council meeting, members of the West Virginia Citizen’s Defense League requested to work with council on the ordinance.  Members were pushing for removal of the conceal carry permit holder restriction and had concerns about regulations at the municipal airport.  Council again voted 4-3 to approve the ordinance as presented.

Even leading up to Tuesday’s final vote, members of the WVCDL continued to pressure council to re-think the measure they argue infringes on Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms.

Patrick Moore, a board chair with the WVCDL, addressed council and said the gun ban “denies those inside the ability to protect themselves.”

More than a dozen people used public portions of Tuesday’s meeting to share their approval or disapproval of council’s action.  Four of 14 appeared to favor a city gun ban.

One Dayton Street resident spoke before campus.  “What is improved by allowing weapons in? We have (police) to handle extraordinary services.  Law is better left to the professionals,” she said.

Councilman Nugent, opposing the ban, moved to amend that the effective date of the ordinance be postponed until physical security measures are in place at municipal buildings “to protect employees and the public in accordance to recommendations from the city police chief and (former interim) city manager.”

After a second from Councilman Bane, the body voted 4-3 against Nugent’s amendment.

Councilwoman Ganz, backing up her dissenting vote on that matter, said “I think it’s a valid long term goal .  I think it’s a separate issue.”

She is “proud to be on a council willing to be sued to protect (Morgantown),” Ganz said later.

Councilman Redmond said it is faulty logic to trust safety to a gun ban sticker on a window.

“I don’t like guns.  They don’t belong here.  But, I’m not taking away rights to make a political statement,” Redmond told council and a chamber full of citizens.

Morgantown’s weapons ordinance allows firearms owners to securely store guns out of view in their vehicles when in parking garages and lots.

“I think we’ve done a good job on this,” concluded Morgantown Mayor Marti Shamberger.

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