UPDATE 4/17/17 @ 5:10 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Charleston Mayor Danny Jones is responding to West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrissey's request to dismiss a lawsuit over the gun bill.
Mayor Jones said Thursday that the city has the right to get judicial clarification about a confusing and ambiguous law that would allow people to carry guns into municipal rec centers and swimming pools.
The Mayor's statement follows:
"The City of Charleston is not surprised by Attorney General Morrisey's attempt to involve his office in the case we filed that attempts to keep hand guns out of Head Start Programs and other Kanawha County School activities that take place in our municipal recreation centers. Our position is simple: Senate Bill 317 conflicts with W. Va. Code Section 61-7-11a, which makes it a felony to '…possess a firearm or other deadly weapon on school property….' His challenge is premature and political. There is a direct conflict between these two laws. We are asking for a declaratory judgment to clarify the law because it has been stated by members of the West Virginia Senate that S.B. 317 is subject to 'multiple interpretations.' We should not have to wait until someone brings a gun into a Head Start Program to seek relief, as the Attorney General would suggest."
Read more on the Attorney General's decision below.
According to a press release sent out Thursday, "The City of Charleston's lawsuit should be dismissed because the City did not sue anyone. Instead, the City asks the Circuit Court judge to render an opinion on the "validity" and "construction" of the law, which passed by overwhelming, bipartisan majorities of the Legislature and was signed by the Governor."
The AG's Office says the request violates basic court rules.
The City of Charleston violated the most basic court rule: that there has to be conflict between two parties. In this lawsuit, it is the City of Charleston versus no one," Attorney General Morrisey said. "The City may have questions regarding the new law, but this is not the correct method to seek those kinds of answers. The Legislature stated its intention to create uniform rules relating to citizens' Second Amendment rights; the City's actions disregard basic court rules by which everyone must abide. While laws pertaining to citizens' gun rights sometimes spark strong reactions, the rule of law - and not emotions - must always be followed."
Earlier this year, West Virginia Legislature passed Senate Bill 317, which says that firearm laws should be applied uniformly across the state. It also says that municipalities may not restrict the rights of law-abiding citizens with properly obtained concealed handgun permits from entering the city's recreational centers so long as such firearms are securely stored out of view and cannot be accessed by others.
Charleston Mayor Danny Jones strongly opposed the bill, and on March 26, the city filed a complaint concerning the law. The complaint seeks a declaration regarding the "construction" and "viability" of the new statute.
"If the City is allowed to proceed with this case, anyone in the state who doesn't like a law could file a similar action, burdening our courts and doing great damage to our legal system," Morrisey said.