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Planning commission pushes for looser requirements for retail gun shops in Putnam County

Published: Sep. 22, 2021 at 12:22 AM EDT
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WINFIELD, W.Va. (WSAZ) - The Putnam County Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend the county commission approve a change that would make for looser requirements when it comes to retail firearm sales in the county.

“What the planning commission voted on (Tuesday) would be to recommend that firearms (are) struck out of the ordinance as it related to that 300 foot rule, if the county commission approves it, it will be adopted,” said David Mills, a member of the planning commission. “It’s time to get back into the 21st century, a lot of these ordinances are fairly old and this specific ordinance is more restrictive than federal or state law.”

Currently, Putnam County does not allow retail firearms sales or pawn shops to be within 300 feet of a home, church or school. The planning commission is hoping to do away with that rule, specifically for retail firearm sales.

County officials said this specific requirement has been in place for over 15 years.

In July, WSAZ reported that a brand new gun shop in Teays Valley was in violation of the ordinance as it sits within 300 feet of a daycare and several homes. That gun shop is Valley Outdoors, located on Mount Vernon Road. The owner, Glenn Yeager II, also sits on the planning commission. During the discussion and vote Tuesday night, Yeager was recused from the room.

Glenn Yeager II is a member of the Putnam County Planning Commission.
Glenn Yeager II is a member of the Putnam County Planning Commission.(Tori Yorgey)

“It needs to be pointed out that the vote tonight has absolutely nothing to do with us because, that’s retrospective,” Yeager told WSAZ. “Even if they had gone the other way tonight (it wouldn’t) affect where we are now.”

“It’s not necessarily as much about Glenn but it was brought to the attention predominantly because of that, and it really brought to light that we’re being more restrictive than federal or state and we’re a second amendment county,” Mills told WSAZ.

During the meeting some residents spoke in favor of the change while others spoke against it.

“I am not opposed to gun sales, I’m just opposed to them in a residential area,” said Dolores Pope, who lives within a 300 foot distance of Valley Outdoors. “Do you think that somebody is going to want to buy my house that has children or is an older adult that’s within 75 feet of where guns, ammunition are being sold, I don’t think so. There was a reason the zoning ordinance was put into place and I think it should be upheld.”

“We currently allow firearms sales within our ordinance within personal residences and anyone that does sell firearms has to go through certain, extensive background checks so those background checks are going to be done and typically they go through the FBI to do that,” said Mills.

Mills said at the federal and state laws, there is no minimum distance required.

If approved by the county commission, the 300 foot rule would only pertain to pawn shops, including pawn shops that sell firearms.

County Commissioner Ron Foster also sits on the Planning Commission.

The county commission will have the final say on whether this goes into effect. It will be voted on at their next meeting on September 30.

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