A man’s business is in danger after county officials failed to uphold the distinction of a Second Amendment sanctuary county for Putnam County, West Virginia. It seems this move is a clear declaration that the county is anti-Second Amendment and anti-small business.
The infringement of rights comes after the Board of Zoning Appeals heard comments from neighbors that live nearby the newly opened Valley Outdoors. One, Dolores Lowe, stated “I, like everybody else, think there’s a place to have the gun shop. I also thought it was going to be hunting guns. When I pulled up the website and the first thing I see is an assault rifle— I have grandkids that come to my house every other week and I felt that it puts them in danger.”
What’s the definition of an assault rifle? That’s the dilemma faced by proponents of gun control when they try to argue restrictions and “common sense” gun laws. Unfortunately for them, the color and shape of a gun does not differentiate it from “hunting guns,” as Ms. Lowe tried to argue.
Senator Cotton, in a senate confirmation hearing with Director of the Bureau of ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms) nominee Mr. David H. Chipman, asked the nominee what the definition of an “Assault Rifle” is. Chipman said “Whatever Congress defines it as.” When pressed, he said that it was “a semi-automatic rifle, capable of accepting a detachable magazine with a round greater than a .22 caliber.”
Cotton replied, “I’m amazed that that might be the definition of an assault weapon. That would basically cover every single modern sporting rifle in America today.”
Putnam County, West Virginia is supposed to be a Second Amendment sanctuary county. It was the first county in the state to be declared so. Apparently, that doesn’t matter to a wobbly ordinance that states that any business that sells firearms cannot be located within 300 feet from a church, school, or residential building.
The Constitution does not make such a distinction; but still, the owner, Glen Yeager, a well-known businessman in the area, secured permission from a county employee to open the business in the current location, which borders a neighborhood and is across the street from a daycare facility. Additionally, Mr. Yeager spent over $150,000 to secure the building and ensure the safety of customers and the community. Further, the county officials acknowledged the agreement made between Yeager and the former county employee but argued that because permission was not a written agreement, they could choose not to uphold it.
After hearing comments from residents, including Mr. Yeager, the decision to deny his request to continue selling firearms was upheld in a 2-1 vote. Surprisingly, three Putnam County Commissioners are Republicans. C. Brian Ellis, Ron Foster, and Andy Skidmore are responsible for appointing the Planning Commission. It’s unclear what they intend to do in terms of the ordinance, as they have the power to change it. However, citizens and supporters of the Second Amendment are watching closely, as their terms expire in 2026 (Ellis), 2022 (Foster), and 2024 (Skidmore).
West Virginia, as a whole, is a pro-gun state. It is rich in wildlife, hard working people, and a love of country. One cannot deny that these decisions of elected officials will not sit well with residents as it trickles into the mountain state.
While some may argue that the word “tyranny” is a stretch to characterize their decisions, there are external censorships Mr. Yeager is facing. When the business owner went to share that his establishment was still open and able to sell other sporting equipment, he was immediately censored by Facebook.
Let’s not forget that Facebook’s Community Standards are as flimsy as the zoning ordinance costing Mr. Yeager thousands of dollars. And yet, they’ve found a way to further hurt small businesses in a state where small businesses are already climbing mountains just to stay afloat.
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