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Thread: Almost official: Guns OK in town parks

  1. #1
    Founder's Club Member - Moderator longwatch's Avatar
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    http://www.starexponent.com/cse/news...n_parks/15267/

    By Allison Brophy Champion

    Published: May 11, 2008
    Nearly three years after the controversial issue initially surfaced, the town of Culpeper is getting around to changing its ordinance that lifts the ban on guns in town parks.

    At its meeting Tuesday, Town Council will consider a recommendation from the Ordinance Committee to delete “firearms” from its list of activities and items that are “strictly prohibited” in town parks.

    That’s because state “preemption laws” enacted in 2004 by the General Assembly supersede most local gun laws, including the town’s prohibition of guns in its parks.
    Richmond-based Virginia Citizens Defense League, a gun rights activist group, brought the gun law change to the attention of the town of Culpeper in 2005, at which time park signs were changed to remove firearms from the list of prohibited items.

    But not before former Town Manager Brannon Godfrey, now Winchester city manager, exchanged a series of interesting e-mails with VCDL about the gun debate — and the age-old debate of state law vs. local law.

    According to Philip Van Cleave, president of the organization, any law-abiding Virginia citizen can carry a gun openly (with no permit) or concealed (with a permit) into any local park, he said in an e-mail to the Star-Exponent in October 2005, when the issue came to a head.

    It was around this time, and following a multi-month “letter-writing campaign,” according to Godfrey, that the former town manager fired off an e-mail to VCDL member Mike Stollenwerk of Fairfax County — in German.

    Here’s what it said: “Mr. Stollenwerk — many thanks for serving as our moral conscience. Culpeper would be lost without the patronizing guidance of the people like you in Northern Virginia. Long live the state! Sincerely, Brannon Godfrey.”

    Godfrey later admitted his “attempt at subtle humor was unprofessional,” saying the last part was a reference to “a dictatorial state,” a la the Nazis.

    “I closed with ‘Long live the State,” a rather obvious reference to our lack of local autonomy to make our own park rules,” Godfrey said in an e-mail to the Star-Exponent Oct. 4, 2005.

    Three years later, the town attorney has prepared the proper ordinance amendment to put the town code in line with state law in regards to guns in parks.
    The recommendation made its way out of the Ordinance Committee this week, and it comes before Town Council at its meeting Tuesday for adoption.
    If adopted, “firearms” will be removed from the list of items prohibited in town parks, as shown in Sec. 15-4.

    Also prohibited are: alcohol, drugs, gambling, littering, loud noise, glass containers, vandalism, swimming in town lakes or ponds, motorized vehicles, skateboarding or biking without a helmet, commercial activities, horses and dogs running at large.

    Allison Brophy Champion can be reached at 825-0771 ext. 101 or
    abrophy@starexponent.com.

  2. #2
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    Thanks for the article.

    I found some similar problems in Loudoun County. I sent the below email to the board of supervisors and the county attorney on March 16, 2008. The chairman of the board replied and said they would look into it. Having heard nothing, I sent a follow up email on May 4, and got a response that the county staff is still looking into it.

    Board Of Supervisors,

    While browsing the Loudoun county website I came across two outdated, and thus invalid, ordinances.

    Link to outdated ordinances:
    http://www.loudoun.gov/Default.aspx?...ight=concealed

    1. Invalid ordinance – The below ordinance is invalid and unenforceable, and thus should be modified to meet Virginia’s firearms preemption law:

    1092.20 Carrying or Discharging Weapons.
    The carrying or discharging, in any park or community center, of any firearm, air gun, gas gun, spring-operated gun, BB gun, slingshot, dart device or bow and arrow is prohibited, except as specifically authorized by the Department of Parks and Recreation in connection with a supervised recreational activity or except as may be carried by a duly authorized law enforcement officer. (Ord. 85-12. Passed 9-16-85.)


    The following Virginia statute forbids any locality from enacting ordinances, resolutions, or motions governing the purchase, possession, transfer, ownership, carrying, storage or transporting of firearms, ammunition, or components or combination thereof other than those expressly authorized by statute:

    15.2-915. Control of firearms; applicability to authorities and local governmental agencies.
    A. No locality shall adopt or enforce any ordinance, resolution or motion, as permitted by § 15.2-1425, and no agent of such locality shall take any administrative action, governing the purchase, possession, transfer, ownership, carrying, storage or transporting of firearms, ammunition, or components or combination thereof other than those expressly authorized by statute. For purposes of this section, a statute that does not refer to firearms, ammunition, or components or combination thereof, shall not be construed to provide express authorization.

    Nothing in this section shall prohibit a locality from adopting workplace rules relating to terms and conditions of employment of the workforce. Nothing in this section shall prohibit a law-enforcement officer, as defined in § 9.1-101 from acting within the scope of his duties.

    The provisions of this section applicable to a locality shall also apply to any authority or to a local governmental entity, including a department or agency, but not including any local or regional jail or juvenile detention facility.

    B. Any local ordinance, resolution or motion adopted prior to the effective date of this act governing the purchase, possession, transfer, ownership, carrying or transporting of firearms, ammunition, or components or combination thereof, other than those expressly authorized by statute, is invalid.


    Conclusion: Neither Virginia statute 15.2-915 nor any other Virginia statute authorizes any locality to regulate the carrying of a firearm in parks or community centers, thus invalidating the subsection of Loudoun ordinance 1092.20 that prohibits the carrying of a firearm in these locations. Thus, Loudoun ordinance 1092.20 should be modified to remove any language prohibiting the carrying of firearms in any park or community center.

    2. Incomplete ordinance – The below ordinance is incomplete, and thus should be modified to meet Virginia’s firearms preemption law:

    684.01. Shotguns or Rifles on Public Highways and in Vehicles
    a. No person shall carry or have in his possession a loaded rifle or shotgun while walking or standing on any part of a public street, road or highway within the County, unless he is authorized to hunt on the private property on both sides of such public street, road or highway at such point.
    b. Subsection (a) hereof shall not apply to persons acting at the time in defense of persons or property. (Ord. Unno. Passed 4-18-77.)
    c. No person shall transport, possess or carry a loaded shotgun or loaded rifle in any vehicle on any public street, road or highway within the County. A shotgun or rifle shall be considered to be loaded when any unfired or live ammunition is contained in the chamber of the weapon or in any other portion of the weapon that is designed to hold extra ammunition and that is attached to or affixed to the weapon. (Ord. 87-02. Passed 4-20-87.)
    d. Subsection (c) hereof shall not apply to duly authorized law enforcement officers or military personnel in the performance of their lawful duties, or to any person who reasonably believes that a loaded rifle or loaded shotgun is necessary for his personal safety in the course of his employment or business. (Ord. Unno. Passed 4-18-77.)


    Loudoun ordinance 684.01 does not make an exception in subsection (b) for purposes other than hunting, as dictated in the following Virginia statute:

    15.2-1209.1. Counties may regulate carrying of loaded firearms on public highways.
    The governing body of any county is hereby empowered to adopt ordinances making it unlawful for any person to carry or have in his possession, for the purpose of hunting, while on any part of a public highway within such county a loaded firearm when such person is not authorized to hunt on the private property on both sides of the highway along which he is standing or walking; and to provide a penalty for violation of such ordinance not to exceed a fine of $100. The provisions of this section shall not apply to persons carrying loaded firearms in moving vehicles or for purposes other than hunting, or to persons acting at the time in defense of persons or property.


    Conclusion: Loudoun ordinance 684.01 subsection (b) violates Virginia’s firearms preemption law by not making an exception for persons carrying loaded firearms… for purposes other than hunting. Thus, Loudoun ordinance 684.01 should be modified to allow for persons to carry loaded firearms for purposes other than hunting while walking or standing on any part of a public street, road or highway within the County.


    Based on the above mentioned Virginia statutes, I respectfully request that the Board of Supervisors consult the Loudoun County attorney, and based on his recommendation modify the above mentioned Loudoun ordinances to comply with Virginia statutes and firearms preemption law. After recommendation by the county attorney and approval by the BoS, I request that the county website be updated to reflect the updated ordinances.

    Thank you,

    [name removed]

    Potomac Falls, VA

  3. #3
    Campaign Veteran Dutch Uncle's Avatar
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    Almost THREE YEARS to get around to changing their (illegal) ordinance !!??

    Do you suppose any citizen could take 3 years to get around to paying his property tax, and get away with it ?



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