CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Legislation to repeal city ordinances in Charleston and other cities that restrict purchases of guns and ammo (HB2558) passed the House Political Subdivisions Committee Wednesday on a unanimous voice vote.
However, committee Chairman Mark Hunt, D-Kanawha, said he believes it's unlikely the bill -- which next goes to House Judiciary Committee -- will pass the Legislature this session.
"I don't think, frankly, that this bill is going to have much success for passage," Hunt said of the bill.
In 1999, the Legislature enacted a law that prohibits city councils or county commissions from imposing any restrictions on the right to "purchase, possess, transfer, own, carry, transport, sell or store any revolver, pistol, rifle or shotgun."
However, the law has a grandfather clause for any municipal gun ordinances on the books prior to June 1, 1999, including a Charleston city ordinance that limits handgun purchases to one per person per month.
That ordinance was enacted in 1993, to address problems the city was having with drug dealers from large Eastern and Midwestern cities coming to Charleston to sell drugs, and then buying handguns with the profits.
Charleston Mayor Danny Jones said Wednesday he is highly concerned that the Legislature is attempting to repeal the city ordinance.
"It affects us very negatively because the people that we want to slow down from buying guns are not from here, but are from big urban areas like Detroit, Cleveland, New York and Washington, D.C.," he said.
"We've got to hope wiser thoughts prevail. The rest of the country is going in one direction, and we're going in the other," Jones said of bills in the Legislature to weaken or nullify gun regulations.
"You would think the NRA would want to keep a low profile after their national leader [Wayne LaPierre] made a fool out of himself after Newtown, but I guess this is one place the NRA thinks it can get bills passed," Jones added.