In recent months, seven localities throughout Virginia have now passed gun ordinances restricting where citizens can carry, openly possess and transport firearms or any components of a gun.
So far, Arlington and Fairfax counties and the cities of Alexandria, Falls Church, Charlottesville, Newport News and Richmond have passed gun ordinances.
Those regulations are all similar, if not exactly the same. They prohibit citizens from carrying firearms in publicly-owned buildings, publicly-owned parks and other public spaces as well as adjacent to certain special events with permits.
The version passed by the Newport News City Council in July has a specific exemption for concealed carry permit holders, however.
After voting to pass the ordinance in mid September, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeffrey McKay issued a statement on the decision.
“Ending gun violence is not a simple problem with simple solutions,” McKay said. “We must attack this issue from many angles including widely supported restrictions. Our Board’s decision to ban guns from government property takes us one more step in the right direction.”
Loudoun County Board of Supervisors is also considering passing similar restrictions after telling county staff to develop an ordinance in early September, according to the Loudoun Times-Mirror.
After going into effect, violations in the different localities would be punishable as a class 1 misdemeanor, which can carry up to a year in prison and a $2,500 fine in the Commonwealth.
In August, Norfolk City Council temporarily withdrew its proposed gun ordinance after massive blowback from gun rights supporters over the plan.
Virginia state law used to bar localities from imposing restrictions on gun owners, but Governor Ralph Northam signed legislation into law earlier this year which allows localities to regulate firearm possession.
Gun rights organizations and proponents strongly oppose the action taken by the local governmental bodies, arguing the ordinances impact the safety of law abiding citizens and infringe upon people’s constitutional rights.
“These localities are putting [out] a feel good, do nothing measure that will endanger the lives of Virginians,” Erich Pratt, Gun Owners of America senior vice president, said in a statement. “When good people are prevented from defending themselves, it allows evil people to carry out their evil deeds.
“Consider the tragic story of Kate Nixon, who worked for the city of Virginia Beach and was prohibited from carrying a firearm. She had considered taking a gun to work because she was worried that a disgruntled employee might try to harm her fellow workers. But not wanting to break the law and lose her job, Kate left her gun at home. Sadly, she became a victim of a mass shooting.”
A federal liaison for the National Association for Gun Rights told The Virginia Star the group opposes all local level gun bans and believes law abiding citizens should have the right to legally carry a firearm.
Mike Dickinson, a candidate for Richmond City Council 1st district, is one of many gun rights proponents speaking out against the gun ordinances.
“I think it’s absolutely an intrusion of the 2nd Amendment and of the U.S. Constitution,” Dickinson said in an interview with The Star. “I spoke out at both of the [Richmond City Council] hearings online, I signed up and spoke both times to try to educate our city council on it. They’re under the influence and dead set on thinking that people’s rights are the problem and not the criminal behavior.”
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Jacob Taylor is a reporter at The Virginia Star and the Star News Digital Network. Follow Jacob on ‘https://twitter.com/jacob_staylor” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”> Twitter Email tips to href=”mailto:[email protected] [email protected]