CITY OF ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WDVM) — This year, the Virginia General Assembly overturned a 2002 state law that barred localities from regulating firearms in their facilities.
Over the weekend, the Alexandria City Council voted unanimously to ban firearms on public property – the first city in the state to ban firearms under the new law. The law will take effect July 1 and bars firearms and ammunition “or components and combinations thereof” from all city facilities and parks, authorized by the Code of Virginia. Those who break the law will face a class one misdemeanor with up to one year in jail and a maximum $2,500 fine.
The ordinance was approved last summer with the expectation the General Assembly would overturn the law. Since then, City Attorney Joanna Anderson says the city also included a ban of firearms and ammunition from public events. Military personnel, sworn law enforcement, private security personnel, museums and historic reenactments and intercollegiate sports involving firearms are exempt. Signs will be posted at all the locations in which the prohibition applies.
Nearly 50 city residents showed their support and their opposition at the council’s public hearing on Saturday. “We are not the problem,” a resident named Mark said. “Gun control has been nothing but a spectacular failure. No one cares about rules, laws, and regulations. This law criminalizes peaceful gun owners.”
Another speaker named Adam said “The ordinance essentially serves to benefit criminals who would gain the luxury of knowing that their potential victims are truly defenseless,” denying law abiding gun owners their ability to protect themselves.
A resident of 20 years named Kelly spoke in favor of the ordinance and expressed her concern that it didn’t exist already. “I’ve listened carefully to the 20 or so people talk before me and talk about what good people that they are and I have every reason to believe that they are,” she said. “However, they’re not trained law enforcement. Everyone believes they will act with good intentions but the fact of the matter is we just don’t know that. Amy Cooper could have had a concealed weapon. We need to think of it that way.”
The law will also ban firearms from streets adjacent to city parks and public events. But after hearing from the public during the comment period, Councilman Chapman had concerns about people with concealed carry permits who are just passing by or who live in the neighborhood. Chapman made a motion to amend the notion. No one seconded it and it died.
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