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    Greg and Beth

    the political and personal musings of two
    mountaineers living in west-central Florida
     
    Jim Mullens Stepping Down as WVCDL President, Running for State Senate Comment
    Gregory Morris, 1/27/10 6:31:49 am
    Got this email last night:
    Dear WVCDL Members, Friends, and Supporters:

    For the last 3 years, it has been my privilege to serve you as the founder and President of the West Virginia Citizens Defense League, West Virginia’s only active, independent, state-based gun rights advocacy organization. Tonight, I wish to share with you some news about my future and that of WVCDL.

    Tomorrow afternoon, I will step aside as your President and hand the reigns of leading WVCDL to our current Vice President, Keith Morgan. This is an event that, for a variety of reasons, I have planned since WVCDL’s inception.

    First, at the time I founded WVCDL, I was a somewhat busy first-year law student who saw the desperate need for an organization such as WVCDL in West Virginia. I had obtained my first concealed handgun license in 2005 and immersed myself in the study of gun laws. Although West Virginia was and is one of the more gun-owner-friendly states in the Union, I found much upon which we needed to improve.

    The most glaring problem I initially found was our state’s abysmal lack of progress in establishing concealed handgun license reciprocity with other states. In 2005, West Virginia had reciprocity with only Kentucky and Virginia, while 10 other states unilaterally recognized our licenses. I easily count as our greatest success the tenfold expansion of reciprocity, much of which was the result of my behind-the-scenes efforts via e-mails, phone calls, and letters to identifying the states with which our law and theirs permitted the establishment of reciprocity and brokering these agreements bringing together the West Virginia Attorney General’s office and the appropriate officials in each new reciprocal state. Much work remains on this front, but we will need new legislation to make this happen. In fact, tomorrow, I will be at the State Capitol meeting with various members of both houses of the Legislature to discuss a new bill I have drafted to overhaul the concealed weapon licensing statute, which would greatly expand our reciprocity, allow licensees to bypass federal firearm purchase background checks, reduce licensing fees, and clarify a plethora of administrative issues that are either unaddressed or inadequately addressed by current law. In 2008, we stopped a hidden license fee increase that was tucked inside a State Police pension reform bill, which would have raised the fee for each 5-year license from $90 to $120. Without WVCDL’s careful legislative monitoring, this fee increase would likely have passed with little awareness or discussing in the Legislature; instead, we helped remove that fee increase from the bill before the bill cleared its first committee.

    West Virginia does not have complete legislative preemption of local gun control ordinances or state agency regulations. I have drafted a very strong preemption reform bill, which was introduced last year in the House of Delegates as HB 3335 and will be introduced again this year in both houses of the Legislature. Current state law grandfathers all existing municipal ordinances that were enacted prior to June 1, 1999, including total carry bans on all city-owned property in the cities of Charleston, Dunbar, and South Charleston, and Charleston handgun dealer ordinances that impose a 3-day waiting period on all handgun sales and a one-handgun-per-month gun rationing scheme. West Virginia gun owners deserve total uniformity in the law wherever they go in this state, from Huntington to Harper’s Ferry, Chester to Cucumber, or any point in between. Furthermore, we deserve protection from the dissipation of our rights through state agency administrative rules, which wile subject to the Legislature’s ultimate approval, are enacted through bundled “rules bills” in which some state agencies have created additional rules limiting our rights by burying those rules among does or hundreds of pages of other rules that are not as closely examined by the Legislature as ordinary bills. We achieved a small victory against this abusive process in 2008 by convincing the House Judiciary Committee to reject a proposed Lottery Commission rule that would have prohibited carrying in the casino areas of the state’s four racetracks. The rule to which we objected amounted to a handful of lines out of more than 100 pages of rules governing racetrack casinos, and initially passed the Senate in a rushed fashion because of the lack of transparency with “rule bills.” 2009 HB 3335 would eliminate all grandfathered ordinances, the state agency rules that the Legislature has previously approved, often unknowingly, and in general prohibit any state or local governmental entity from imposing any firearm regulations beyond the statutes the Legislature has enacted through the ordinary legislative process.

    There are many other issues I could expound upon, but suffice it to say that I do not foresee WVCDL working itself out of a purpose.

    It has always been my goal to give WVCDL a solid foundation to grow and develop as an organization. However, I also knew that, regardless of any particular factors for me personally, WVCDL would get to a point where we would have a core group of leaders and activists who could not only carry on with WVCDL’s mission, but take WVCDL to the next level. WVCDL has reached a point at which the type of leadership it needs is different from that which I can provide. While I bring a strong intellectual and legal background to the table, WVCDL needs organizers. As a newly-minted attorney who is trying to build a successful law practice, I am simply without the time or resources to dedicate to WVCDL that it needs to grow and prosper as a true grassroots citizen advocacy organization. Also, since part of my law practice includes firearm law issues, I feel I have an ethical obligation to WVCDL, my clients, and the general public to avoid wearing too many hats at once.

    Finally, and perhaps the most pressing among the reasons for my choice of now as the time for this transition, there are political considerations at hand. From its inception, WVCDL has been a nonpartisan, issue-oriented advocacy organization that believes strictly in promoting the individual’s right to keep and bear arms as a fundamental human right, regardless of whether one is a Democrat, Republican, or Mountain Party member; liberal, conservative, or off the beaten path. In the most recent legislative elections in 2008, WVCDL’s political action committee endorsed legislative candidates who, but for gun issues, spanned the ideological spectrum.

    My political issue interests are diverse. However, as a conservative Republican, it is my belief that this year may be the best time in my lifetime for members of my party who want to run for elected office in this state. Thus, even if I was otherwise able and willing to continue serving as your President, keeping WVCDL’s existence as a nonpartisan organization independent of the external politics of any of its officers, directors, or members, dictates that our President, who is invested by our Bylaws with strong executive authority, be removed from direct partisan political involvement as a political candidate or elected official. Those of you who closely follow politics obviously know that one week ago, we witnessed a political earthquake in Massachusetts that registered a Perfect 10 on the Victor Scale. At least on my side of the aisle, we forecast last week’s earthquake to be followed by the greatest political tsunami in 116 years, with landfall anticipated on November 2. Opportunities like this seldom present themselves and must not be squandered. Therefore, I announced tonight to a very enthusiastic crowd at the monthly meeting of the Raleigh County Republican Executive Committee that I will run for the state Senate in the 9th District (Raleigh County and most of Wyoming County). Tomorrow, immediately after transferring the WVCDL presidency to Keith Morgan, I will go to the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office and officially file to run for the Senate.

    Although I am stepping aside soon as your President, I will not be stepping away from WVCDL completely. At the discretion of your incoming President, Keith Morgan, and the rest of WVCDL’s leadership team, I will remain involved with WVCDL in appropriate ways that will advance our common cause. It is my sincere hope that in the months and years ahead, you will carry the torch forward to preserve—and in some cases reclaim—our fundamental individual right to keep and bear arms as a means of both preserving our individual freedom and protecting ourselves, our families, and our friends from the very real dangers we face in this world. I look forward to taking my talents and interests to the state Senate next year.

    Again, I want to thank you for the support you have given me and WVCDL, and I urge you to support your incoming president, Keith Morgan, and remain eternally vigilant in guarding our freedom.

    James M. "Jim" Mullins, Jr., Esq.
    President, West Virginia Citizens Defense League, Inc.

    I would like to thank Jim for the hard work he has provided on behalf of all West Virginians, and wish him in all his campaign and all future endeavors.

    [Comments are closed after a month.]

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