City gun laws are saving lives
On March 11, a 6-month-old was shot to death in Chicago.
Jonylah Watkins was killed while her father was changing her diaper in his car parked on a South Side street. Doctors were unable to repair the damage caused by the five bullets that tore through her little body.
On that same day, the House of Delegates passed a bill that would negate all local gun ordinances in West Virginia. This would affect Charleston, South Charleston, Dunbar and Martinsburg.
What is the connection between these two events?
It is possible that the gun used to kill Jonylah in Chicago came from West Virginia. That is because West Virginia has relatively weak gun laws - laws that allow the purchase of multiple handguns at once.
These guns then find their way to places like Chicago, where they are sold illegally on the street.
But the gun that killed Jonylah did not come from Charleston.
That's because Charleston has an ordinance that limits handgun purchases to one per month and requires a 72-hour waiting period before taking delivery of the gun. Folks who sell handguns on the streets of Chicago don't want limits and don't want to wait.
Some arguing in favor of the bill say they want gun laws to be consistent statewide.
The needs of West Virginia's urban areas are different than those of its rural areas and those differences should be honored.
Furthermore, if consistency is the desire, why isn't the Capitol Complex included? Even if this bill became law, it would still be illegal to carry a gun there.
Finally, if you want to make gun laws consistent statewide, why not make them stronger, imitating Charleston's ordinance?
I live in South Charleston, where guns are not permitted on municipal property. I enjoy being able to patronize the recreation center and library knowing they are gun free.
It's working in Charleston, Dunbar and Martinsburg. Why change it?
The state Senate announced that it will not be considering this bill this session.
I am glad to know senators are not submitting to the threats of the gun lobby. I pray that none of the other legislation that would further loosen gun laws in West Virginia sees the light of day.