CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Charleston City Council is reluctantly voting for a bill to eliminate restrictions pertaining to gun retail shops.

They originally voted against the bill 12 to 10 during Monday’s City Council meeting, however since it recently became required by state law for firearm sales be handled in the same way as other sales, they made the decision to vote for it to avoid litigation.

This comes after a longtime zoning ordinance the city had in place since 2006 limiting where firearms could be purchased in the city.

City Manager Matt Sutton said the measure isn’t controversial, it’s mandatory.

“The Legislature changed the law last year which told municipalities they’re not allowed to treat gun retail shops any different than other retail shops in their zoning ordinances,” Sutton said.

It also limited the amount of time a city has to act on an application for a new business.

Sutton said the Goodwin Administration was opposed to the idea when it was debated at the statehouse and lobbied against it alongside other municipalities and the Municipal League. However, their efforts failed and lawmakers passed the new state laws, which Charleston must follow.

“Creating a statewide rule is complicated when you’re doing something like this, but at the same time, they set the rules and we have to follow them. The real policy decision or controversy occurred months ago up at the Legislature so now this is a technical cleanup saying we are going to abide by the state law,” he said on 580-Live. with Dave Allen.

Bill 8032 sparked much debate during Monday’s council meeting as many said they did not approve of the bill as they feel it could jeopardize citizens’ safety.

However, they eventually made the motion to pass the bill only to comply with state law.

“The state legislature seems to like to take control away from us and decision-making away from one of the most accountable municipal bodies in the state, well in the country actually,” Councilman Emmett Pepper said during discussion on the bill. “But that’s what it did and we can’t change that,”

Councilwoman Jennifer Pharr added that she feared the consequences of being sued by the state if they did not pass the bill.

“There’s so much that at risk,” Pharr said. “I like councilwoman Hoover unfortunately do not feel we’re in a position where we can take that risk.”

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