The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

March 9, 2013

Firearm protection bill advances in House

By Mannix Porterfield
Register-Herald Reporter

CHARLESTON — Firearms control advocates fell squarely into the gun sights Friday of Sen. Truman Chafin.

In floor remarks, Truman pointed to some statistics that showed 2,102 soldiers died in combat in the past 22 months in the Iraq-Afghanistan theaters of operation.

That means the firearm death rate for American troops was 60 per every 100,000 soldiers on duty there, the Mingo County Democrat said.

Over the same period, Chafin noted, the death rate involving the use of guns in the nation’s capital was 80.6 per 100,000 residents.

“That means you have about a 25 percent better chance of getting shot and killed in Washington, D.C., the U.S. capital, which has some of the stricter gun laws in the U.S., than if you are stationed in the Iraq-Afghanistan theater,” he said.

Chafin then paused momentarily before delivering his punch line that evoked strong laughter.

“So, the conclusion of this is, the U.S. should probably pull out of Washington, D.C.,” he added.

Firearms protection bills are in abundant supply in this session, given the frenzy in Congress to impose harsher gun limits in the aftermath of massacres at a Colorado movie theater and a school house in Newtown, Conn.

One bill would make it a felony for any government official in West Virginia to enforce new federal gun restrictions.

In the House of Delegates, without any amendments, lawmakers advanced HB2760, authored by Delegate Rupie Phillips Jr., D-Logan, which would forbid any municipality from enacting firearms purchase or possession restrictions within their jurisdictions.

Among co-sponsors are Majority Leader Brent Boggs, D-Braxton; Finance Chairman Harry Keith White, D-Mingo; and Delegates Justin Marcum, D-Mingo; John O’Neal, R-Raleigh; and Ted Tomblin, D-Logan.

Known as the “preemption bill,” it bars any cities or counties from imposing firearms laws and, within 90 days of becoming law, scratches existing ones from the books.

— E-mail: mannix@register-herald.com