All three Kanawha County Democrats who voted against the bill spoke against it Monday.
Delegate Nancy Guthrie said she thought the Legislature was headed down a "slippery slope." No law enforcement agency called for the bill, and no one said the Charleston ordinance wasn't working, she said.
"I spoke with the NRA. They were in favor of the bill," Phillips said later when asked why he introduced the bill.
The ease of getting a gun in West Virginia brings criminals to the state, argued Kanawha Democrats Danny Wells and Meshea Poore. Both voted against the measure.
Poore, who represents downtown Charleston and surrounding neighborhoods, said Cabela's knew the law when it came to Charleston and other businesses in Charleston feel safer with it in place.
"Think about the mom-and-pop shops: Bluegrass Kitchen, Thelma Fay's," Poore said. "These individuals are businesses as well. They're affected if people don't feel comfortable coming into their restaurants because of the crime on the street."
She also thinks the bill spits in the face of local control, the idea of moving more power from the state level to local communities.
The Senate passed a bill last week to extend the Home Rule Pilot Program until 2019. The project, which expires this year, gives more control over taxes and regulations to participating cities.
Charleston's ordinance makes the city safer, Poore said, but she also doesn't want to see guns purchased locally end up elsewhere. She was one of several legislators to mention large urban areas as destinations for West Virginia weapons.
Several mentioned Detroit as a destination for West Virginia guns. Phillips brought up Cleveland and Chicago as well, other larger cities typically cited as locations for Mountain State firearms.
The mayor agreed.
"Our guns turn up in other places, just like the dope from other places turns up here," Jones said.
It's tough to prove the law has been effective, Jones said, but he's confident it has been a success.
Neither supporters nor opponents mentioned any statistics or data to prove the Charleston law is or is not working. Only anecdotal evidence was provided.
In 2010, West Virginians were killed by guns at a higher rate than people living in Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, New York and many other states with large urban centers.
According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 14.1 West Virginians per 100,000 were killed by a gun in 2010. The rate is adjusted to take all ages into account and includes all gun-related deaths. The CDC recommends it for comparison purposes.
Michiganders died at a rate of 11 people per 100,000. Rates for deaths caused by guns in Ohio, Illinois, California and New York were all below 10.
West Virginia's rate was 13th in the nation for 2010, the latest data available. States with higher rates included Alaska, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Montana and Wyoming.
Many gun bills remain before the House. More than 30 have been introduced this session.
The legislation must be approved by the Senate and signed by the governor before it becomes law.