WV AG Seeks Dismissal of Charleston Gun Suit

by Attorney General Patrick Morrisey
CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey  announced that his Office filed motions to intervene in and dismiss a Kanawha County Circuit Court lawsuit concerning a state law that seeks to ensure firearm laws are applied uniformly across the state.

The Office’s motions say 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 Office contends that 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, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 317, a law that says, among other things, that firearm laws should be applied uniformly across the state. In addition, the law says 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. On March 26, the City of Charleston filed a complaint in the Kanawha County Circuit Court concerning this law. The City’s complaint seeks a declaration regarding the “construction” and “viability” of the new statute.
Morrisey said the Office’s motions focus on the fact that the City’s complaint does not list an adverse party. In short, the City is suing no one. The Office’s motions also point out that the City cannot seek a judge’s opinion on laws that are not being contested by two parties.
“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.
The motions were filed in the case 14-C-604, which is being heard by Circuit Court Judge Carrie Webster.
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