WVCDL in Martinsburg, WV on 08/14


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Bubbles
August 5, 2008, 11:56 AM
WVCDL will need a good turnout from folks in the panhandle. My husband, daughter, and I will be attending the meeting.

From a WVCDL-Alert:

Thursday, August 14, 2008 : Martinsburg City Council Meeting

The Martinsburg City Council meets monthly on the second Thursday of the month at 6:30 PM at Martinsburg City Hall on Queen Street. Last month, we wrote to city officials about their ongoing violation of the state preemption law with a city property carry ban ordinance that was enacted in 2005. This issue came to our attention when a similar ordinance was proposed in Ranson and defeated thanks to you.

We plan to address council members during the public comment period about the current ordinance and our desire for its repeal. Although we will not remove any options from the table, it is our intent to persuade the council to voluntarily pass a repealing ordinance. While our research shows a clear intent by the Legislature to fully preempt all municipal ordinances after 1999, the preemption statute is not a model of clarity.

Interestingly enough, the local paper has this article about the city council meeting:

City May Amend Weapons Measure (http://www.journal-news.net/page/content.detail/id/509089.html?nav=5006)

Martinsburg leaders want to clarify stance

By Chris Huntemann / Journal Staff Writer POSTED: August 5, 2008

MARTINSBURG - City of Martinsburg leaders are considering an amended ordinance that would prohibit people from carrying or possessing a firearm or other deadly weapon in public buildings.

The first and second reading of the ordinance was approved unanimously by the Martinsburg City Council during its meeting July 29. There was already an ordinance in place regarding weapons on public property, according to City Manager Mark Baldwin. However, the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down the ban on citizens owning handguns in Washington, D.C., caused the city to revisit the issue, he said.

Baldwin and Martinsburg Mayor George Karos met with city attorney Kin Sayre and reviewed the ordinance. The original ordinance had language regarding public properties that was pretty vague, Baldwin said.

"Our concern was to amend the ordinance based on recommendations by the city attorney," he said. "When you talk about public properties, that includes streets and sidewalks, and that wasn't our intention."

The new amended ordinance states that no person can carry or possess a firearm or other deadly weapon, whether it is carried openly or concealed, in any building that is owned, leased or under the care of the city of Martinsburg.

Baldwin said the ordinance applies to buildings such as City Hall, the city's police and fire stations, the city's water and sewer buildings and any buildings belonging to Martinsburg-Berkeley County Parks & Recreation that are on city property.

If a person is caught with a firearm or other weapon in a building belonging to the city of Martinsburg and refuses to relinquish possession of the weapon or leave the premises while still having possession of the weapon, they will be charged with a misdemeanor. If convicted, they could could face a fine between $100 to $1,000 and a possible 30-day jail sentence.

Karos said adjustments were made to the previous ordinance in an effort to protect city employees.

"We are doing everything by the letter of the law and that is what I go by," he said.

The ordinance will be given its third and final reading during the council's meeting Aug. 14 and will take effect immediately if approved by council.

Ranson city officials recently considered an ordinance that would have prohibited weapons on public properties as well, but they tabled the issue indefinitely in June after there were concerns about the ordinance language being too vague. Gun rights groups also complained to Ranson leaders about the ordinance.

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ilbob
August 5, 2008, 03:56 PM
A lot of people (me included) are uncomfortable doing things they have not done before (like going to a city council meeting and speaking up).

I am wondering if some kind of mentoring program is in order where people who regularly go to such meetings and do speak there could take newbies under their wing and help them get active.

Bubbles
August 6, 2008, 08:15 AM
Check out Toastmasters International (http://www.toastmasters.org/).

FWIW even if you're not comfortable speaking, simply showing up and applauding those who do makes a big impact, both to the speaker and to the elected officials.

siglite
August 6, 2008, 12:56 PM
ilbob,

Just show up to these things. Your presence is enough. It shows the council members (or other politicians) that you cared enough about the issue to get in your car and drive. If you're uncomfortable with public speaking, don't speak. And rest assured that you're not alone. I read somewhere that fear of public speaking ranks just behind the fear of death in terms of prevalence. I know when the WVCDL goes to these things, we do not ask anyone to speak who does not wish to do so.

We had several folks speak in the recent Ranson city council meeting. And that was great. But we also had a room full of people who did not speak. And rest assured, the mere presence those silent supporters packing that room had a significant impact on the council members.

Bubbles
August 13, 2008, 12:04 PM
Anyone in the WV panhandle please be in Martinsburg tomorrow night!

Gun advocates to visit city (http://www.journal-news.net/page/content.detail/id/509333.html?nav=5006)

Citizens Defense League wants to talk to Martinsburg’s council

By Chris Huntemann / Journal Staff Writer

MARTINSBURG - City leaders can expect to see gun advocates attending Thursday's council meeting.

Several members of the West Virginia Citizens Defense League (WVCDL) intend to speak out against city leaders' attempt to pass an amended ordinance prohibiting people from carrying or possessing a firearm or other deadly weapon in any building owned, leased or under the care, custody and control of the city of Martinsburg.

The council approved the first and second reading of the ordinance during its meeting July 29. The ordinance will be given a third and final reading during Thursday's meeting and could take effect immediately if approved by the council. WVCDL President Jim Mullins Jr. said the major problem stems from the original city ordinance that was established in 2005.

The 2005 ordinance stated that individuals were prohibited from carrying or possessing a firearm or other deadly weapon on any public property or in any building owned, leased or under the care, custody and control of the city of Martinsburg. The amended ordinance that city leaders are attempting to pass does not include the phrase "public property."

That language was removed from the ordinance because it was vague, said City Manager Mark Baldwin.

However, Mullins said the amended ordinance does not correct its ongoing violation of a statute the state Legislature has had on the books since 1999. Mullins cited a portion of the statute in a letter dated Aug. 4 that was sent by WVCDL members to Martinsburg Mayor George Karos.

The letter cites West Virginia State Code, section 8-12-5a, which states that "neither a municipality nor the governing body of any municipality may limit the right of any person to purchase, possess, transfer, own, carry, transport, sell or store any revolver, pistol, rifle or shotgun or any ammunition or ammunition components to be used therewith."

The type of ordinance city leaders are attempting to pass is prohibited by state law, Mullins said, adding that it is his group's desire to work amicably with city leaders to bring the city back into compliance with state law and repeal the ordinance. In June, WVCDL members went before the Ranson City Council to express concern about a similar ordinance the council was trying to enact. Ranson leaders decided to table the issue indefinitely.

Mullins said those who go through the proper application process to obtain a firearm are law-abiding citizens. This ordinance tramples on their rights, he said. Mullins has spoken with city attorney Kin Sayre regarding the amended ordinance and Sayre agrees with Mullins that the city's original ordinance was overexpansive. However, Sayre said the purpose of the amended ordinance is not to establish a public policy against guns.

"I feel the ordinance as proposed does not violate any pertinent West Virginia statutes or any constitutional amendments," he said.

Bubbles
August 15, 2008, 09:49 AM
I went there straight from work so I wasn't really dressed for public speaking. I thought about getting up to speak near the end, but had nothing to add from what the current speakers said. I also didn't take notes so please bear with my memory.

The room was packed; standing-room only at the end. There are 100 seats in the council chambers.

The NRA lobbyist spoke first. He travelled there from Alexandria. He made a decent presentation, but IMO it needed more polish coming from someone for whom public speaking is part of the job. Basically, it was "state law prohibits this, and here are the relevant sections of code". There was a very, very veiled threat of a lawsuit made, plus the fact that NRA would be working in the WV legislature next spring anyway to strengthen the preemption law and thus the ordinance would be overturned within a year anyway, so better just to repeal it now.

Jim Mullins from WVCDL made a better presentation IMO from the NRA guy (probably because he's more familiar with WV laws and their history in the legislature) and made several of the same points. He also added that permit holders were not the ones they needed to worry about, and that criminals bent on rape/robbery/murder in a City building wouldn't care about an ordinance that would put them in the regional jail for 30 days.

Delegate John Overington (http://www.overington.com/), who represents Martinsburg, spoke out against the ordinance. Delegate Overington was serving in the state legislature when the original preemption law passed in 1999, and he told the City Council that the WV Legislature had intended to block localities from passing exactly this type of law!!! I also got the impression that he has contacted other state delegates and senators and has enough support for a strengthened preemption law.

Folks from Sparks, Shep's, and Valley Guns spoke out against the ordinance.

Several M-burg residents, most of whom were older veterans, spoke out against the law. Summary: shame on you for violating the constitution and the right of our families and friends to defend themselves at home while we were out fighting and willing to lay down our lives to protect it.

One resident spoke very... passionately... and said the dreaded L word (lawsuit). He mentioned that it would be too bad if M-burg's $1.5 million budget surplus were wasted on fighting to keep this ordinance instead of going to the police department. He's the one with the "frivolous crap" quote at http://www.journal-news.net/page/content.detail/id/509412.html?nav=5006.

jon_in_wv
September 11, 2008, 08:01 PM
Does anyone know if WV has passed a "stand your ground" or "castle doctrin" statute yet? I've heard rumors but nothing more than that.

only1asterisk
September 11, 2008, 10:44 PM
Does anyone know if WV has passed a "stand your ground" or "castle doctrin" statute yet? I've heard rumors but nothing more than that.

They did, but it's a little weak. I'll see if I can find it.

David

only1asterisk
September 11, 2008, 11:58 PM
I can't find the updated code, here is the bill that was passed:

A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new article, designated §61-2A-1, §61-2A-2 and §61-2A-3, all relating to the castle doctrine generally; creating a presumption of reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm when using defensive force that is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm to another; and granting immunity from criminal prosecution and civil action.


Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended by adding thereto a new article, designated §61-2A-1, §61-2A-2 and §61-2A-3, all to read as follows:
ARTICLE 2A. CASTLE DOCTRINE ACT.
§61-2A-1. Legislative findings.
(a) The Legislature hereby finds that it is proper for law-abiding people to protect themselves, their families, and others from intruders and attackers without fear of prosecution or civil action for acting in defense of themselves and others. (b) The Legislature finds that the castle doctrine is a common-law doctrine of ancient origins which declares that a person's home is his or her castle.
(c) The Legislature finds that Section 22 of Article III of the West Virginia Constitution guarantees the right of the people to bear arms in defense of themselves.
(d) The Legislature finds that the persons residing in or visiting this state have a right to expect to remain unmolested within their homes or vehicles.
(e) The Legislature finds and declares that no person or victim of crime should be required to surrender his or her personal safety to a criminal, nor should a person or victim be required to
needlessly retreat in the face of intrusion or attack.

§61-2A-2. Home protection; use of deadly force; presumption of fear of death or great bodily harm.


(a) A person is presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another when using defensive force that is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm to another if:
(1) The person against whom the defensive force was used was in the process of unlawfully and forcefully entering, or had unlawfully and forcibly entered, a dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle, or if that person had removed or was attempting to remove another against that person's will from the dwelling, residence or occupied vehicle; and
(2) The person who uses defensive force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act was occurring or had occurred.
(b) The presumption set forth in subsection (a) of this section does not apply if:
(1) The person against whom the defensive force is used has the right to be in or is a lawful resident of the dwelling, residence or vehicle, such as an owner, lessee, or titleholder, and there is not an injunction for protection from domestic violence or a written pretrial supervision order of no contact against that person; or
(2) The person or persons sought to be removed is a child or grandchild, or is otherwise in the lawful custody or under the lawful guardianship of, the person against whom the defensive force is used; or
(3) The person who uses defensive force is engaged in an unlawful activity or is using the dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle to further an unlawful activity; or
(4) The person against whom the defensive force is used is a law-enforcement officer as defined in section eleven-a, article two-A, chapter twenty-nine of the code, who enters or attempts to enter a dwelling, residence or vehicle in the performance of his or her official duties and the officer identified himself or herself in accordance with any applicable law or the person using force knew or reasonably should have known that the person entering or attempting to enter was a law-enforcement officer.
(c) A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.
(d) A person who unlawfully and by force enters or attempts to enter a person's dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle is presumed to be doing so with the intent to commit an unlawful act involving force or violence.
(e) As used in this section, the term: (1) "Dwelling" means a building or conveyance of any kind, including any attached porch, whether the building or conveyance is temporary or permanent, mobile or immobile, which has a roof over it, including a tent, and is designed to be occupied by people lodging therein at night.
(2) "Residence" means a dwelling in which a person resides either temporarily or permanently or is visiting as an invited guest.
(3) "Vehicle" means a conveyance of any kind, whether or not motorized, which is designed to transport people or property.
§61-2A-3. Immunity from criminal prosecution and civil action.
(a) As used in this section, the term "criminal prosecution" includes arresting, detaining in custody and charging or prosecuting the defendant.
(b) A person who uses force as permitted in section two of this article is justified in using such force and is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action for the use of such force, except when:
(1) The person against whom force was used was a law enforcement officer, as defined in section eleven-a, article two-A, chapter twenty-nine of the Code of West Virginia, who was acting in the performance of his or her official duties and the officer identified himself or herself in accordance with any applicable law;
(2) The person using force knew or reasonably should have known that the person was a law-enforcement officer.
(c) A law-enforcement agency may use standard procedures for investigating the use of force as described in subsection (b) of this section, but the agency may not arrest the person for using force unless it determines that there is probable cause that the force that was used was unlawful.
(d) The court shall award reasonable attorney's fees, court costs, compensation for loss of income, and all expenses incurred by the defendant in defense of any civil action brought by a plaintiff if the court finds that the defendant is immune from prosecution as provided in subsection (b) of this section.


NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to authorize the use of force, including deadly force, against an intruder or attacker in a dwelling, residence, or vehicle under certain circumstances.

§61-2A-1, §61-2A-2 and §61-2A-3 are new; therefore, strike-throughs and underscoring have been omitted.

jon_in_wv
September 12, 2008, 10:59 AM
Why can no one find the updated code? Finding the bill is one thing but a bill isn't law until its passed and codified. I just want to know that it is actual law. It may not be perfect but it is a LOT better than current WV law.

only1asterisk
September 12, 2008, 11:10 AM
After reading it again, it doesn't seem to be as weak as I remembered. Maybe I was thinking of another state?

It looks like they only update the online searchable code once every year or so. I might stop by the legal library today (if I find time) and look for a hard copy.

David

langenc
September 13, 2008, 11:46 AM
As recommended-just show up. If some kind of badges are available-wear one.

One can be sure that the council has no intention of hearing 30 (15 or 20??)or more speakers on any subject. They figure they have better things to do.

FSCJedi
September 28, 2008, 10:00 AM
As a resident of this city, I'm VERY upset with how this turned out. I wasn't there, of course (deployed), but I sure wish I could have been!

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