Charleston Mayor Danny Jones says state legislators ought to be focusing on protecting the waters of West Virginia, but instead are focused on guns, gays and abortion.
“You started out talking about abortion,” Jones told Hoppy Kercheval, who was hosting his Metronews Talkline radio program from the state capitol building in Charleston. “Then we went to guns. The Democrats are playing gotcha with the Attorney General. You had this young man talking about tobacco. Gay rights made it in there a little bit.”
“You know that since we had the big chemical spill in the Elk River, we’ve had two more spills? And I wonder — how many people up there know that?” Jones asked.
Earlier in the show, Kercheval had on Senate President Jeff Kessler (D), who was talking about legislation SB 317 that would strip Charleston gun restrictions, including a prohibition on purchasing more than one gun a month and a three day waiting period.
“I’m concerned about that, but I wrote it off a long time ago,” Jones said. “I know they are going to do that. I predicted that at the end of last session. That’s not what I’m worried about. I’m worried about our parks and our swimming pools and our riverfront park and the city property.”
“What does SB 317 say now about concealed carry?” Kercheval asked.
“In cities, you cannot have laws against concealed carry,” Kercheval asked. “We can only cover that in our own buildings. We think we have that covered. We are not sure. We raised the question about the ballpark. This local ballpark we have — will they be able to carry them into Appalachian Power Park? That’s owned by the city, but it’s an open park. It’s an open field. Will they be able to preclude them there? That’s what they are into right now, that’s what they are arguing about.”
“The National Rifle Association says they ought to be able to carry guns anywhere they want to carry them. Our position obviously is counter to that. And in the final analysis, they are are going to do what the NRA tells them to do. That’s it. That’s what is going to happen.”
“We’d like to have (restrictions) on our property. We want zoning rights over where they can put pawn shops, which are gun stores.”
“But the point is Hoppy, is that we had the biggest chemical spill, which may be the worst environmental disaster in this century and they haven’t passed an environmental bill up there since 1996,” Jones said. “There is nobody protecting the citizens here. Their whole direction is completely wrong — guns, abortion, gays. It’s the same old stuff. The number one resource in West Virginia is not coal or gas, it’s water. The whole session should have been focused on that.”
“You sound aggravated,” Kercheval said.
“Not really,” Jones said. “I’m not really aggravated. I knew they were going to take our three day waiting period and one gun a month thing away. And to hear Jeff Kessler, who is one of the brighter lights up there, say — well all you have to do is drive to South Charleston (to bypass Charleston’s gun restrictions) — well, we think that ought to be our call. But we’ve learned, or at least I’ve learned, that all of our problems as cities emanate from the building you are doing your show from, whether it’s pensions, or guns, or any of these zoning laws or anything. It all emanates from up there. We’re a political subdivision of the state. And most of the people who are up there aren’t urban thinkers. That’s politely putting it.”
“Nobody knows what’s going to finally happen with the gun bill because it’s in a fluid state right now. It’s still being hashed back and forth. We ought to get the environmental community, or somebody who wants to clean water, we ought to get the NRA to come in here and lobby for that. Then maybe there wouldn’t be anymore chemical spills, no more coal slurry in the river.”