Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has signed a bill that makes municipal gun ordinances uniform around the state. The legislation was met with harsh opposition by Charleston Mayor Danny Jones, who expressed concerns over some of the bill's provisions.
The law allows those with concealed-carry permits to bring guns into municipally-owned recreational facilities, but requires them to store guns securely out of view and access to others. However, guns could be brought to venues where children might be present, such as some after-school programs.
"This evening, I signed Senate Bill 317 because I support our Second Amendment rights, and I also see the need for uniform and consistent gun laws throughout the state. I believe this legislation will give municipalities clarity for regulating firearms in their facilities," Tomblin said in a statement released Tuesday.
Senate President Jeff Kessler, the bill's lead sponsor, mimicked those thoughts in a release Wednesday, saying he thinks it's better for the state to have consistent gun codes.
"In last year’s Home Rule legislation, there were restrictions implemented on having any gun ordinances for cities participating in the Home Rule Pilot Program, which was designed to give local officials more control," he said.
"SB 317 takes firearms completely out of the Home Rule process and, instead, requires all municipalities to follow state and federal gun laws."
Charleston Mayor Danny Jones expressed concerns after the legislative session over the provision in Senate Bill 317 that allows guns in municipally-owned recreational centers.
"One of those rec centers is associated with Kanawha County schools and if you carry a gun onto school property, it’s a felony," Jones told West Virginia Public Broadcasting on March 11.
"I’m wondering if legally if they can even do this. So, we’re ready to go to court and we’re ready to do whatever we can do to challenge this and to put a stop to this,” he said in the same interview.
The Charleston City Council last week repealed a 1993 ordinance that limited handgun sales in the city in an attempt to convince Gov. Tomblin to veto the bill.
In the statement Gov. Tomblin released Tuesday, he acknowledged Jones' outspokenness on the issue.
“I understand the concern of those who have voiced opinions about challenges within the bill related to municipally-owned recreational centers. I will continue to work with local and state officials to address those concerns," Tomblin said.
The bill overwhelmingly passed both chambers of the state legislature.