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Gun Rights Group Seeks Rec Center Rules Clarification

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Copyright 2017 Charleston Newspapers

Charleston Gazette-Mail

 

A West Virginia gun rights organization wants a circuit judge to rule on exactly how guns can be safely stored in municipal recreation facilities in Charleston city limits.

Attorneys with the West Virginia Civil Defense League also asked Kanawha County Circuit Judge James Stucky to rule on whether a recreation facility within city limits becomes a school facility if the recreation space regularly is used by K-12 students and the people who care for and educate them.

Stucky heard arguments from Shawn Romano, on behalf of the league, and Sean McGinley, on behalf of the City of Charleston for a little more than an hour Monday morning.

Romano said it's unclear whether the city's enforcement of gun laws, as it pertains to facilities within city limits, is consistent with state law.

At issue were guns taken into recreation facilities within city limits by people with firearm permits and their storage therein.

Only people with firearm permits can bring guns into municipal recreation facilities, as long as they are safely secured and stored out of view and access to others, per state law.

What the motion from the league seeks to answer is what constitutes secure storage that is out of the view and access of others, and whether a municipal recreation facility becomes a school facility if students are present.

A person who brings a firearm onto school property can be charged with a felony, per state law, so Romano said the league wanted to clarify if a person who attends a school-sanctioned athletic practice or other event off of school property is violating that law.

McGinley gave an example of the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center along Donnally Street. The center is owned by the city, but it is leased to Kanawha County Schools to allow students participating in school-sanctioned athletic teams to practice.

McGinley said municipal centers that regularly are used for school and education affiliated functions should qualify as school facilities, and no one should be permitted to carry a gun on those premises.

McGinley also argued guns are not permitted on any school grounds, even when non-education functions happen there, and the affected municipal recreation centers should be treated the same.

Romano said the league agreed, to a certain extent, that municipal facilities with leases with the school district qualify, as school facilities.

Romano argued that if students take a field trip to a private business, that business does not become a school facility, although learning happens and students are present. He said a municipal recreation facilities without agreements with school districts should be treated the same.

On the issue of secure storage, Romano said a secure space can be on the gun owner's person or in a glove compartment while he or she is at a municipal recreation facility.

McGinley said federal law said secure storage could only be a gun safe, general safe or lock box designed only to be unlocked by means of a key or combination. He took issue with a purse or a gun holster being a secure means of storage.

Stucky said he would rule on the case "in the near future.

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August 29, 2017
 
 
 

 

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