The Arlington County Board of Supervisors (BOS) voted unanimously on Saturday to ban firearms in county government buildings, parks, and at events requiring a county permit. The ordinance only applies in clearly marked areas, and the BOS also voted to provide $110,000 for signs.
Citizens called in with comments for about one-and-a-half hours which was followed by another hour of discussion by the board. Chair Libby Garvey summarized: “It’s so clear how much we have two different worldviews. So for example, a number of speakers were giving examples of assaults and things that happened [saying,] ‘This is a reason to let people carry guns.’ And I’m listening and I’m thinking, ‘Oh thank God there wasn’t a gun involved,’ because it wasn’t a fatal incident. [There’s] so many different things that happen that often end up being fatal if there’s a gun.”
“More guns means more people dying,” Garvey said. “I have often said in this country we have a plague of guns in this country, we’re seeing it play out with people being upset and afraid. And instead of just being upset and afraid suddenly they pull out a gun and start shooting.”
Garvey added that in the future, she wants to hear more discussion about the “well-regulated militia” clause of the Second Amendment. “That’s where we are trying to get to with our permits. I know the folks carrying the concealed weapons permit, that’s part of what they are about too,” she said. “And I appreciate the people who are really careful and do what they can to be safe.”
Virginia Citizen’s Defense League President Philip Van Cleave has been encouraging gun-rights advocates to lobby local government to oppose similar bills. He said the majority of Virginians are opposed to this kind of legislation; the only places that are passing these ordinances are small pockets in northern Virginia, central Virginia, and the tidewater region. He said, “Part of it is who is attracted to the urban living and who is attracted to the rural living. A lot of urbanites have given up a lot of their freedoms, more than they have out in the country, and some people are fleeing the cities.”
Van Cleave said, “People are starting to appreciate having more freedom and more liberty. I think that governments tend to be more tyrannical in the cities, they just are. They’re a power source. People in them love their power, and they’re forever ramming one mandate or another down everybody’s throats.”
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