Meanwhile, Ranson, WV is Smart

Gun advocates thank Ranson City Council

A proposed ordinance banning firearms was dropped recently.

By Edward Marshall / Journal Staff Writer

July 3, 2008

RANSON – Members of gun rights groups thanked the Ranson City Council in person at Tuesday night’s meeting for abandoning a proposed gun ban ordinance for city-owned property.

The proposed ordinance was brought up at a council meeting last month and tabled indefinitely for further discussion. Since then, council members have indicated that they are not planning any further action at this time.

The issue gained attention from area residents and members of various gun rights groups, such as the West Virginia and Virginia Citizens Defense League and the National Rifle Association.

“I wanted to come here tonight to thank you for dropping that proposed ordinance and also to take special note of how quickly you all responded to concerns raised by a lot of other individuals,” said Jim Mullins, president of the WVCDL, during the council’s regular meeting.

Mullins, who traveled from Morgantown to attend the meeting, said he thinks the council and the public are now aware that West Virginia had a preemption law passed nine years ago that puts the power of gun control strictly in the hands of the state legislature. He added, though, that the particular state statute was not drafted in completely clear language.

Keith Morgan, vice president of the WVCDL, also thanked the council, after traveling from Charleston to do so in person.

“As you can probably tell from your audience here, the ban did attract statewide attention even beyond the borders of West Virginia,” Morgan said.

He said one of the things the group is hoping for is that the council’s decision, which he called wise, will be seen as an example by other cities in the area, some who may attempt to consider gun bans or others that may already have such bans.

Ian Branson, a northern Virginia resident and member of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, spoke on behalf of the organization in expressing appreciation for how the town council dealt with the issue. Branson, who has an open-carry permit for a firearm, attended the meeting armed with a handgun at his side and told Ranson Police Chief William Roper that those with such permits are simply law-abiding citizens.

“I know you have a difficult job, but not everybody that carries a gun is a criminal. I hope that you’ll let your employees know that and respect the rights of the citizens,” Branson said.

When the proposed ordinance was brought up at a meeting last month, Roper was the one who asked that it be tabled for further review based on concerns that the wording of the ordinance was too vague. The original intent of the ordinance was to ban firearms from specific city-owned properties such as government buildings and city parks, not the entire city itself.

Roper, however, indicated Tuesday that he would like for the issue to be looked at again.

“You’re preaching to the choir,” he told Branson. “I was the one who stood up against this at the last meeting. But after seeing what I’ve seen today, I think some folks are taking it to the limit.”

With citizens attending the meeting armed, Roper said he would need to ask each and every one of them if they did, in fact, have permits to carry such weapons. He also said he had concerns regarding allowing citizens to attend government functions armed.

“You’re in a government function right now, and as I know from the past, there have been many things that have happened in a government function such as council members, mayors, city managers getting shot,” Roper said.

Branson said he respected Roper’s concerns and his opinion, but said that the kind of person the police chief is wary of cannot carry a gun openly.

“They’re going to commit crimes because the laws don’t mean anything to them,” Branson said. “You have a hard job and we respect you for that.”

Before moving on to other items on Tuesday’s agenda, Mayor A. David Hamill thanked those in the audience for attending and for the appreciative comments that were made, adding it’s not often the council receives such remarks.

“At the present time, this ordinance is tabled. We anticipate no further action at this time and it’s not a matter of discussion any further this evening, because it’s not an agenda item,” he said.

– Staff writer Edward Marshall can be reached at (304) 725-6581, or emarshall@journal-news.net

It would figure that Martinsburg wouldn’t take a hint from Ranson.

Here’s the link.

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One Response

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