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    Greg and Beth

    the political and personal musings of two
    mountaineers living in west-central Florida
     
    WVCDL Martinsburg Update Comment
    Gregory Morris, 8/15/08 7:30:42 am
    WVCDL scored a small victory in Martinsburg last night, when the city council repealed part of a city property gun ban. However, the new ordinance that replaces the previous one still defies state pre-emption law. Here's what Jim had to say:
    Last night I was among more than 50 people who packed Martinsburg City Council Chambers to show our opposition to the city’s ongoing violation of the state preemption law and support for totally repealing the city ordinance that now prohibits firearms in city-owned or operated buildings. In the end, the City Council passed a revised ordinance that replaced the former ordinance prohibiting firearms on all city-owned property (including open land) with an ordinance prohibiting firearms in city buildings.

    During the public comments period, NRA lobbyist Jordan Austin Spoke, followed by yours truly, then Delegate John Overington, and then several members of the public. Public comments were unanimous in favor of repealing the ban altogether. Despite the characterizations by City Attorney Kin Sayre that some individuals were confused about the scope of the ordinance, I can assure anyone that everyone in attendance knew precisely that the ordinance was about carrying in city-owned or operated buildings that the taxpayers of the City of Martinsburg paid for.

    I distributed to the City Council, members of the press, Mr. Austin, Delegate Overington, and several other individuals in attendance a booklet containing my legal analysis of how the ordinance violates the preemption statute and copies of state firearm laws (including the preemption statute), the Charleston city ordinances (including a city property gun ban) that precipitated the 1999 preemption statute, and other supporting materials. I will make it available on the WVCDL web site later today.

    I made the point during my comments that the ordinance supposes that a criminal who is willing to rape, rob, or kill and spend decades or life in prison will somehow magically be dissuaded from committing his crime in a city building by the prospect of 30 days in the regional jail for the city gun charge. I know the large and supportive audience had some difficulty maintaining their composure when I made that point—all of us except the Council members grasp the concept that we, law-abiding citizens will obey such rules while the criminals won’t.

    We were disappointed but not surprised by the city council’s vote. We will evaluate our options for how to most effectively overturn this ordinance and will make that decision known at an appropriate time.
    Folks, 50 people is OK, but next time it needs to be 500. The Martinsburg City Council needs it to be a little more(?!) clear that the citizens of that city will not tolerate illegal city ordinances that infringe upon their rights while doing nothing to make them safer.

    Update:
    What I find to be the most ridiculous argument for why the city is "allowed" to ignore pre-emption:
    "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."
    (from The Journal) The city doesn't have rights. Individuals have rights. City property is owned by the citizens of Martinsburg, and therefore cannot be exempted from state law in this matter.

    [Comments are closed after a month.]

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