CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Sadly, Gov. Tomblin signed the abominable "home rule" law that prohibits West Virginia cities from trying to protect residents from gun murder. Home rule means letting local governments make decisions -- but the new state law forbids them to decide about gun safety. It's a self-contradictory mess.
Hurrah for Charleston City Council leader Tom Lane, who vows to launch a personal court battle to overthrow the pro-gun law that was crammed through the Legislature by Delegate Patrick Lane, R-Kanawha, and other conservatives.
"The hubris and arrogance of the Legislature this year in my mind was unsurpassed," Tom Lane told council members Monday night. "The Legislature is telling us we can't keep guns out of our recreation centers, out of our pools, even out of the Civic Center. But we're not going to take this."
Since a city cannot sue the state, the Republican council chief said he will sue as a private citizen. But there's no hurry, because the home-rule change won't apply to Charleston until mid-2014, and other legislative revisions could occur before then.
To make matters worse, the new law damages all Charleston businesses. Mayor Danny Jones had planned to lower the city's business-and-occupation tax, but complications imposed by the law change make this boon unworkable. That's another reason to challenge the travesty.
Bizarrely, after the massacre of first-graders in Connecticut, right-wing West Virginia lawmakers plunged into an orgy of gun worship. Some 36 pro-gun bills were introduced -- including one requiring West Virginia police to arrest federal officials who enforce U.S. gun laws. It was a strange spectacle. Luckily, only a few of these oddities passed.
Worshiping guns is mostly a far-right tea party conservative phenomenon. Rural "red states" engage in it -- while urban, prosperous, better-educated "blue states" try to control gun danger. The issue divides America deeply.
This week, Vice President Joe Biden met privately with leaders of numerous religious faiths and urged them to wage a moral crusade against America's tragic gun murder rate, which is worse than the toll in any other modern democracy. We can't imagine a more worthy church effort.