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Governor Tomblin Signs Gun Bill

Reported: Mar. 25, 2014 11:15 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Stefano DiPietrantonio) – Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has signed a controversial gun bill, which allows people with concealed-carry permits to bring guns into city-owned recreational facilities, including swimming pools and after-school centers.

The law also requires people to store guns securely, out of view and inaccessible to others. But guns can be brought to sports venues and places which cater to children, including after-school programs.

It's the bill that has workers at places like the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center on the East End shaking their heads. Bring a gun into a center packed with kids? No way, they said. It also had some county leaders scratching their heads, such as Commission President Kent Carper, who said the bill left the County out!

"It defies common sense,” said Charleston Mayor Danny Jones in an interview about the bill March 18th. “ We're gonna continue to fight this!" He has called the gun bill "disgraceful". What's worse, Carper said they’re not even included in the legislation.

"It doesn't cover County government," said Carper. "Say for example, Coonskin Park, it doesn't cover Coonskin Park. but it covers Cato Park. It doesn't cover a recreation center that the County has, but it would at the one the cities have."

"I don't feel good!," said Hollis Lewis, who is the Program Coordinator at the Rec Center.

"What it says is that, an individual with a permit, is allowed to carry a gun, a concealed weapon, into the rec centers in Charleston,” said Lewis. “Despite the fact you have kids from 5 to adults here and despite that we have an afterschool program, we also have a pre-school!"

About a hundred kids play ball, box and take part in programs there every day.

"I believe the bill also states that we would have to be responsible for storing the weapons," said Lewis.

So the fear is two-fold. That a child might get hold of stored weapons. And just having the liability of a weapon on-property.

"You don't want to have to store these things,” we asked. “I don't want anything to do with any guns whatsoever!," said Lewis.

"I hope we don't see events occur, that will cause a lot of people to regret their position,” said Carper.” You know, right now, we're in a public building, it wasn't that long ago someone carried a gun into the school board. A gun and a bucket full of gasoline!"

Both Chambers of the Legislature previously approved the measure.

"And for the Legislature tell us we have to let guns in our rec centers,” said Jones. “Is an issue we don't have any choice but to resist. and we will do that in Kanawha County Circuit Court."

Supporters of the law said public places are actually safer when you have responsible people, legally carrying guns, should trouble arise. Governor Tomblin said he will continue to work with officials to address their concerns.



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