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Tomblin vetoes ‘guns in parks’ bill in deference to county judgement

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Tomblin vetoes ‘guns in parks’ bill in deference to county judgement
By Matt Maccaro, WV MetroNews

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin vetoed a bill Wednesday that would have prohibited county park commissions from exercising authority to ban firearms on their grounds.

The decision was commended by the Kanawha County Commission, which was reluctant to allow guns in its parks, particularly Coonskin Park.

“I did personally contact the governor and let him know that I thought that he should consider vetoing the bill,” said Commission President Kent Carper. “I’m very glad that he did. I know some people will be angry about it, but this has been a long standing practice. It’s just not a good idea to have weapons in certain places.”

In his veto message, Tomblin said he vetoed the bill in “deference to county judgement on matters of public safety.”

“I believe counties are in a better position than the Legislature to evaluate local issues and determine whether firearm prohibitions in county parks and recreation areas are appropriate,” part of his message said.

Carper agreed with Tomblin’s assessment, pointing out that counties own the property.

“We are the landlords of the county’s property. And we believe, especially our park commission, that it’s not a good idea to (have guns) at a park where little children play.”

Carper also felt the legislation unfairly targeted Coonskin Park. He foresaw problems when constitutional carry, which was passed this past legislative session, goes into effect at the end of May.

“(The law) allows people that perhaps have a mental hygiene warrant to carry a pistol around,” he said. “I think there’s going to be areas of foreseeable consequence to that. I hope not.”