Last updated: July 18. 2013 2:35PM - 1006 Views
Ron Gregory
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While some readers enjoy questioning whether local pastors carry pistols to church on Sunday, there can be little dispute that Republican Delegate Kelli Sobonya “packs heat” in her travels around the district and state.


The Sunday Gazette-Mail first reported that Sobonya accidentally dropped her pistol while sitting with Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and others during the recent interim sessions in Wheeling. The Sunday Charleston paper is a product of The Gazette staff and the Sobonya story appeared in a political gossip column authored by a Gazette employee. As might be expected, Sobonya, a real estate salesperson, says The Gazette reporter got most of the details about the incident wrong but she admits she did drop her gun.


All of this comes as the famous George Zimmerman case in Florida plays out daily on cable television. There, both the alleged assailant and victim’s friends maintain Florida’s “stand your ground” law put their colleague in the right. What poppycock. All “stand your ground” and “Castle laws” do is invite people to shoot each other.


Sobonya is, by and large, a good representative for Cabell County in the state legislature. Although it is difficult to find that Republican legislators – even with 46 of 100 members – exert much influence, Sobonya is a hard worker and spends a great deal of time working for the public.


None of that explains carrying a pistol, however. As we return to the days of the “wild, wild West” in this state, I am reminded that even the famous Marshal Matt Dillon of “Gunsmoke” fame cautioned citizens not to take matters into their own hands. When one pulled a gun, Dillon would calmly tell him or her to put it back in the holster and let “the law” take care of matters.


On the other hand, the temptation of having a pistol adds intrigue to whether or not state legislators would hesitate in shooting an irate constituent. Legitimate press accounts say most members of the legislature are licensed to carry concealed weapons.


While The Gazette insisted Sobonya said she had to “walk through a tough neighborhood” in Wheeling during the interims and packed a gun “just in case,” Sobonya told the Charleston Daily Mail (which does get things right) a convoluted story about her job in real estate. Apparently, according to that account, a man sitting outside a Sobonya open house for an hour made her uneasy. At least that is apparently what she told reporter Dave Boucher.


Sobonya said the man waited until the showing of the vacant house in Milton was over before coming inside. Sobonya found herself alone with the stranger. The legislator apparently made a hasty exit.


“He said he wanted to go see the house and asked if there’s a basement and if I could show it to him,” Sobonya told Boucher. “I said no, you can find it yourself.” So much for salesmanship.


The man looked inside the home briefly and left. He refused to take any paperwork about the house but did accept her card with a photo on it. That, according to Sobonya, is one reason why she decided to carry a gun.


Pardon me for saying it, but that is more poppycock.


Sobonya also said the security detail accompanying the governor did not ask her about the weapon, as The Gazette reported. Apparently, the state police accompanying Tomblin see nothing wrong with people hanging around the governor with guns in their purses and pockets, if they didn’t question her. As the old joke goes, “I don’t believe I would have told THAT.”


What seems beyond dispute is that Sobonya dropped her gold leather wristlet – or rather, Tomblin exposed it. Sobonya’s version is that the gun was wedged between her knee and the desk where Tomblin was seated. He moved, the open purse fell and Tomblin could see her .32-caliber handgun.


“I looked at him, he looked at me. I made a joke, he made a joke,” Sobonya said. I must say it relieves tension to joke about lethal weapons right before using them, according to research.


“I said, ‘Hey, governor, you don’t have to worry; I have my permit,’ ” she added. She did not go on to say whether the document permitted her to “stand her ground and defend her property (the wristlet)” to the point that she might have to shoot the governor for exposing it.


My, my, my. Let me once again point out that there is no danger of any of my grandchildren accidentally shooting anyone at MY house since there will be no guns there. There is no chance that I will “accidentally” drop my pistol, no matter what tough neighborhood I’m in, because I will not HAVE one.


As in Florida, carrying a firearm gives rise to the very real possibility that someone will be injured or killed. I’ve been in tough neighborhoods all over the country from Philadelphia to the Mexican border. I never felt the need to carry a gun to defend myself. It is just an open door for a problem and an indication that the person “packing” is, in reality, a coward.


* * * * * *


Meanwhile, Chapmanville lawyer Ben White was celebrating the prosecution’s decision last week not to proceed in Logan County circuit court with the case against the 14-year-old Logan Middle School student who wore an NRA-sponsored shirt to school. White is the student’s lawyer.


White called it a “vindication” of the American judicial system. I call it yet another example of the “good ole boy” network so prevalent in Southern West Virginia. As I said when prosecutors decided to go forward with the case, I doubted that any Logan County jury would have the nerve to convict the student anyway. The real justice system never had a chance. It IS interesting, though, that my comments about the student drew more positive reaction from readers than anything I have written heretofore. Maybe not everyone wants to defy authority.


Now, all those who declare they want “discipline in school” can stop using that senseless claim. A student can defy his or her teacher and principal in Logan County and get away with it. Ask not why there is a breakdown in “discipline” in public schools.


* * * * * *


If, as state Republicans hope, they are able to claim a majority in the house of delegates next year, they can not only thank new Speaker Tim Miley but maybe a bit of luck will help as well.


For example, with Kanawha Democrat Delegate Doug Skaff running for the state senate, that will make one more Kanawha house seat vulnerable for a Republican pickup against a non-incumbent.


There are also rumors of retirements by several Democrat lawmakers. One mentioned recently is Kevin Craig of Cabell County. Being from the same district as Republican Carol Miller, that is clearly a seat that could be claimed by the GOP if Craig is not on the ballot.


* * * * * *


One Facebooker offered high praise for “Senator Hall” last week. The writer might want to be a bit more specific, however. There are, in fact, two senator Halls at the statehouse – Democrat Daniel and Republican Mike. It was apparent to me that the writer was referring to Daniel Hall but most probably wouldn’t have known.


Praise for Daniel Hall is often found on the Internet. A page devoted to those who donated to his campaign carries wildly-enthusiastic endorsements from some of those who gave him money. That seems a bit redundant to me although the writer(s) may have personal reasons for the additional display of support.


* * * * * *


Which state senator was recently trapped in an ever-moving statehouse elevator? Only I and the Shadow apparently know.


* * * * * *


Now, at least, crazed pro-gun folks can claim Senator Joe Manchin’s attempts to pass logical background checks has cost the state something. Actually, I don’t know that this is a fact since Beretta, the gun manufacturer, had never announced they would move from Maryland to West Virginia. But Beretta now says it will “never’ come to the Mountain State because of Manchin’s “anti-gun” stance. Manchin is not anti-gun and I fully believe is on the side of the angels in this debate.


* * * * * *


Former Republican State Senator Frank Deem remained hospitalized in Charleston last week. The ex-senator has been talking about another run for the legislature next year, perhaps for a house of delegates seat.


* * * * * *


Former Governor Arch A. Moore, Jr. often testified that the editorial positions of The Charleston Gazette cost the state more jobs than any other factor. Personally, I know of at least one plant that did not locate in the Kanawha Valley due to The Gazette. Now, however, it appears that The Gazette’s anti-coal stance will assist in relieving the region of even more gainful employment. Never content to simply keep new industry from locating here, The Gazette went after the chemical industry until they ran practically every job out of Kanawha County. Now, they agree with the Obama administration on coal.


Yet both Charleston papers lament the fact that “Charlie West” once had more residents than “Charlie South” (Carolina). I wonder how The Gazette intends to keep people here if they eliminate ALL jobs?


* * * * * *


Contact me with your rumors, thoughts and story ideas. Use the email above or call 304-533-5185.


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