PARKERSBURG - Local lawmakers are getting a second shot to exempt the Parkersburg South Patriot's musket from the Safe Schools Act.
Bills to exempt the musket from the act, which bans all firearms from school campuses, have again been introduced in both the West Virginia House and Senate. The bills failed to make it out of committee last year, but lawmakers are optimistic this session.
Parkersburg South officials pushed the matter to legislators last year, and Delegate John Ellem, R-Wood, said they inquired about it again. Ellem said it is simple, straight forward legislation.
Former Parkersburg South Patriot mascot Alex Burdette stands with the musket before the 2011 football season opener against Ripley.
"We had always planned to bring it up again," Ellem said. He said officials should have some idea where the bill stands next week.
Sen. David Nohe, R-Wood, said it's too early to tell if this year's attempt will be met with success or failure, but he's hopeful.
"I was told it would go through this year for sure," Nohe said.
However, Nohe said he was told the bill would be approved last year.
State code prohibits all weapons on school grounds, except for a handful of cases. Those exceptions include law enforcement officers, unloaded weapons being auctioned and the West Virginia University Mountaineer, who carries a rifle as part of his uniform. The proposed bills would have added the Patriot's musket as an exception.
Sue Woodward, assistant superintendent of Wood County Schools, said in some cities where the teams go ordinances exist that prohibit the firing of a weapon. The proposed exemption for the South mascot would "mirror what was done for the Mountaineer mascot," she said.
Ellem said the House bill (HB 2355), referred to the Judiciary Committee, has the support of the committee. In the House, delegates Ellem; Dan Poling, D-Wood; Tom Azinger, R-Wood, and Bill Anderson, R-Wood, sponsored the measure to exempt the musket.
The Senate version of the bill (SB 421) is sponsored by Nohe; Donna Boley, R-Pleasants; Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, and Chris Walters, R-Putnam.
State lawmakers have introduced a flurry of gun rights and firearm advocate bills this session. Ellem thinks the Second Amendment fervor won't have much bearing on the Patriot's musket exemption