Not too long ago, drug dealers from Detroit and other urban areas were doing a dandy business in Charleston. They sold illegal drugs here and used some of the money to buy guns through surrogates for resale at higher prices back home.
In response, Charleston in 1993 enacted an ordinance that restricted handgun purchases to one every 30 days and then only after a 72-hour waiting period.
The Legislature later banned cities from enacting such restrictions but allowed Charleston and three other cities to keep their local ordinances.
Now in the wake of attempts at the federal level to restrict gun ownership, state legislators are rallying around the Second Amendment and have introduced more than 30 bills dealing with gun rights.
Among those proposals was one that would override the four city gun ordinances. It is difficult to grasp the constitutional question that some supporters of this repeal raise.
The city is not limiting gun ownership, but merely slowing the purchasing process. A resident can own as many guns as he wants; when it comes to handguns, he just has to purchase them one at a time.
Charleston city officials cite legitimate, crime-related reasons for their ordinance. And no restrictions are placed on rifles, which account for a small percentage of gun-related homicides.
On a 94-4 vote, the House passed the bill repealing the grandfather clause in the ban on local gun ordinances and sent it to the state Senate. That is when the debate turned ugly.