Further Proof that Martinsburg, WV Sucks

City Council Bans Guns

Ordinance prohibits weapons in Martinsburg city buildings

By Chris Huntemann / Journal Staff Writer

August 15, 2008

MARTINSBURG – Despite concerns raised by several people in attendance, the Martinsburg City Council voted Thursday to approve an amended ordinance prohibiting weapons in city buildings.

The ordinance, which takes effect today, states that no person shall carry or possess a firearm or other deadly weapon, whether carried openly or concealed, in any building owned, leased or under the care, custody and control of the city of Martinsburg or any political subdivision of the city.

The council chambers in City Hall were filled with people opposed to the ordinance Thursday evening, and several of them spoke to council members.

Jordan Austin, a lobbyist with the National Rifle Association, said the original ordinance that was implemented by city leaders in 2005 is in direct conflict with state statute.

West Virginia Code section 8-12-5a states that municipalities may not limit a person’s right “to purchase, possess, transfer, own, carry, transport, sell or store any revolver, pistol, rifle or shotgun or any ammunition or ammunition components to be used therewith.”

City attorney Kin Sayre responded to Austin’s comments and agreed that the state statute does restrict the power of municipalities on the issue. However, the ordinance that was voted on by the council deals with the city as a property owner, Sayre said. As a property owner, the city has a right to restrict firearms on its property.

Jim Mullins Jr., president of the West Virginia Citizens Defense League, told council members that the ordinance will not deter criminals from committing crimes. He added that honest, law-abiding citizens who are permitted to carry guns should not be subject to an endless web of ordinances.

“You should not confuse carrying a firearm lawfully with committing a crime,” Mullins said.

Delegate John Overington, R-Berkeley, told council members that state legislators do not want to see every city in West Virginia have its own set of regulations and impose its own sanctions.

Overington said he was surprised by the council’s decision to approve the ordinance, but he said it will give him and his fellow legislators momentum to clarify and makes changes to the state statute.

“We don’t want there to be 200 different gun laws in the state, and we want law-abiding citizens to be able to defend themselves,” he said.

Martinsburg resident John Compton told council members that he was very disgusted when he heard about the ordinance, and he said he hopes council members would respect the rights of gun owners.

“Martinsburg citizens don’t want their tax dollars wasted on frivolous crap,” he said.

After hearing comments from audience members, the council voted on the third and final reading of the ordinance.

All council members except Gregg Wachtel and Rodney Woods voted to approve the ordinance. Wachtel did not vote on the ordinance because he conducted the meeting in the absence of Martinsburg Mayor George Karos. Woods said he generally supports the ordinance but has questions as to how it will be enforced.

Sayre said he believes several audience members were confused as to the language of the ordinance. Judging by comments made by several audience members, Sayre said he thought they were under the impression that they will no longer be able to carry firearms on their own property.

“Nowhere in the ordinance does it say a person can’t own a firearm on their personal property,” Sayre said. “It only applies to city buildings.”

Mullins said he was was not surprised by the council’s decision, and he said that although the amended ordinance is a little less restrictive, it does not correct the violation that he thinks city leaders have made.

“It is a disappointing development,” he said.

– Staff writer Chris Huntemann can be reached at (304) 263-3381, ext. 127 or chuntemann@journal-news.net

Here’s the link

Martinsburg… what a $hithole.


One Response

  1. […] Senator and urge them to support Senate Bill 621.  I blogged about the original passing of an ordinance in Martinsburg way back last year.  Here’s a snippit from the […]

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