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Bill to void gun laws in 4 W.Va. cities advances

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A bill that would void Charleston's gun ordinances moved a step closer to passage in the West Virginia House of Delegates on Friday.House members approved a second reading of the legislation (HB2760) in the morning without amending the bill. A final House vote on the bill is expected next week.The measure would strike down county and municipal gun control ordinances, including those enacted by the city of Charleston in the 1990s, that are inconsistent with state law.Charleston's ordinance limits handgun purchases to one per month and requires buyers to wait 72 hours before receiving weapons.The bill would give the Legislature complete control over gun regulations.Charleston Mayor Danny Jones and other Charleston leaders oppose the bill. Jones has said Charleston's ordinances target drug dealers who attempt to buy up large numbers of weapons and sell them in urban areas with strict gun control laws.
State law already bans future municipal gun control ordinances, but doesn't repeal local gun ordinances in Charleston, South Charleston, Dunbar and Martinsburg.The House bill under consideration would void those cities' laws. It passed the House Judiciary Committee on a contested voice vote earlier this week.Opponents of local gun control measures have tried to get the laws in Charleston and other cities overturned in federal court. When federal judges told the West Virginia Citizens Defense League to pursue its case in state courts first, the group instead turned to the state Legislature.At a Charleston City Council meeting on Monday, Jones told council members that he expects the House to "vote to take away our gun ordinance." He said he expects a close vote in the state Senate, which also would have to approve the bill.Earlier this week, longtime City Councilman Tom Lane, a Republican like Jones, told The Charleston Gazette that he is "disheartened that the Legislature could dismantle what we've accomplished."The Associated Press contributed to this report. Reach Eric Eyre at or 304-348-4869.
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