CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Hurrah for state Senate President Jeff Kessler, Senate Judiciary Chairman Corey Palumbo, Government Organization Chairman Herb Snyder and other senators brave enough to stand up against the bizarre gun hysteria that stampeded the House of Delegates this session.
Kessler declared Tuesday that the Senate won't vote on House Bill 2760, which would revoke local gun safety laws passed by Charleston and other West Virginia cities.
The weird bill flew through the House on an overwhelming 94-4 vote, amid fervent clamor by groups wanting more gun-carrying in the Mountain State. When it reached the Senate, pro-gun throngs picketed senators and bombarded them with calls and emails demanding passage of the House measure.
Chairman Snyder, D-Jefferson, received death threats saying "you won't go home from Charleston" if HB2760 fails. He said his children received menacing Facebook messages. "This is just plain ugly," the senator said. "This is the nastiest thing I've seen in 22 years of public service."
Pickets carried signs threatening to "fire" Chairman Palumbo, D-Kanawha. "Palumbo supports petty tyrants," they said, and "Palumbo wants you defenseless."
Although Palumbo has an "A" rating from the National Rifle Association, he said the Legislature shouldn't remove Charleston's ability to choose its own rules against gun crime. "I think Charleston should be able to make that decision," he was quoted. His home-rule attitude made him an enemy of right-to-bear-arms zealots.
Amid this turmoil, Kessler said the Senate will ignore the House-passed proposal. "After being threatened over a bill, it sends a horrible message if we put the bill out there," he said.
However, the leader of the pro-gun West Virginia Citizens Defense League declared that "Senator Kessler's next" for hostile picketing. He said a rally tentatively is set for April 5 in the "heart of Senator Kessler's district," mid-northern counties and a bit of the Northern Panhandle. The leader said it's "political suicide" for any senator to oppose right-to-bear-arms believers.
We think Kessler, Palumbo and Snyder deserve "Profiles in Courage" medals for their brave stand against gun zealotry.
We hope they show the same strength against 30-plus other pro-gun bills looming in the House, such as one to jail federal officials who enforce U.S. laws, and another to hide the names of all pistol permit holders.
It's dismaying that the 2013 legislative session was supposed to cure West Virginia schools but turned into a gun circus.