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While browsing the Loudoun county website I came across two outdated, and thus invalid, ordinances.
Link to outdated ordinances:
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.
Potomac Falls, VA