Correction: An earlier version of this column incorrectly cited Cara Unger, wife of Senate Majority Leader John Unger, as the author of an email sent to legislators opposing the public education reform bill. The email's author was Shannon Unger, an elementary school teacher who lives in Martinsburg. John Unger said he and the author of the email are not related.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- During the House of Delegates' floor debate on the bill to nullify city and county gun ordinances (HB2760), at least three delegates, including Delegate Mark Hunt, D-Kanawha, referred to the hardship Charleston's one-handgun-per-month limit imposed on the Cabela's outdoors superstore within the city limits.
(In fact, Delegate Woody Ireland, R-Ritchie, displayed his Cabela's rewards credit card -- which as was pointed out, could constitute an Ethics Act violation, since he was alluding to potential private gain if the bill passes.)
In fact, there was no formal request -- and as best I can determine, no informal inquiries --from Cabela's executives seeking passage of HB2760.
As we've experienced twice in West Virginia, Cabela's does incredible amounts of research on site selection -- and frequently negotiate tax breaks, zoning, and other concessions from localities as conditions for locating a store.
Cabela's leadership knew about Charleston's handgun ordinance, and evidently did not consider it an impediment to locating an 80,000-square-foot store in the city, or they would have come to City Council to get the ordinance repealed or modified.
I've yet to set foot in Cabela's, but I suspect handguns make up a small percentage of sales in a store that sells all manner of hunting, fishing, boating, camping, and outdoors equipment.
Ironically, the day after the House passed HB2760, Cabela's stock jumped 13 percent, on reports that first-quarter same-store sales percentages were up by the mid-teens.
A reader wanted to know how much campaign money the NRA had given to the bill's sponsors. A spot-check of the lead sponsor, Delegate Rupert Phillips, D-Logan, or ranking delegates (Boggs, Miley, White) showed no contributions from the NRA's political action arm.
However, it is interesting to look at the sponsors' home counties: Logan (2), Lincoln (2), Harrison, Braxton, Mingo (2), Raleigh, Randolph and Upshur. Only two of the 11 sponsors live in cities of any size.
A good analogy would be if rural legislators introduced a bill to outlaw traffic lights statewide. After all, they're an inconvenience for drivers, their constituents don't like them, and their home districts statistically have fewer traffic accidents despite not having traffic signals.
In that scenario, residents of Charleston, Huntington, Morgantown, and other traffic-congested cities would be rightfully perturbed that rural legislators were attempting to impose a law on them that would assuredly make their city streets more dangerous.