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Thread: Do local Va Governments have power to allow or not allow loaded firearms on public waterways?

  1. #1
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    I came across this on the Prince William County code. Sorry if already addressed elsewhere.



    The following quick reference outlines the restrictions that apply to hunting and the discharge of firearms and bows within the County. Consult the Prince William County Code sections that relate to these restrictions.


    Firearms Regulations

    • Hunting or shooting firearms on or within one hundred (100) yards of a public right-of-way, street, or highway is prohibited (County Code section 31-24).
    • Hunting or shooting within one hundred (100) yards of a regularly occupied dwelling without the advance permission of the owner/occupant is prohibited (County Code section 31-23).
    • It is unlawful to hunt with any rifle larger than .22 caliber. However, hunting with a muzzle loader is permissible during the prescribed open seasons, but a separate muzzle-loading license is required. (County Code section 31-22).
    • The terms 'firearms/guns' includes BB and pellet guns (County Code section 31-21).
    • Shooting at wild birds or animals with a rifle or pistol on or over public inland waterways is prohibited (County Code section 31-25).
    • The carrying of a loaded rifle or pistol in a boat or other floating device on public inland waterways is prohibited (County Code section 31-25).

    Bow Regulations

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    § 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.
    C. In addition to any other relief provided, the court may award reasonable attorney fees, expenses, and court costs to any person, group, or entity that prevails in an action challenging (i) an ordinance, resolution, or motion as being in conflict with this section or (ii) an administrative action taken in bad faith as being in conflict with this section.
    (1987, c. 629, § 15.1-29.15; 1988, c. 392; 1997, cc. 550, 587; 2002, c. 484; 2003, c. 943; 2004, cc. 837, 923; 2009, cc. 735, 772.)

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    Sec. 31-25. Same--On public inland waterways. It shall be unlawful for any person to shoot a rifle or pistol at wild birds or animals on or over public inland waterways within the county, or to carry a loaded rifle or pistol in any boat or other floating device on such waters. (Ord. No. 81-28-34, 10-6-81)

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    Thanks. It appears the County needs to do a little house cleaning of their code.

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    Regular Member wylde007's Avatar
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    rebfan wrote:
    Thanks. It appears the County needs to do a little house cleaning of their code.
    There's a lot of that. I think some of them because they've just never bothered to repeal the offending ordinances, others I wonder if they don't hope that preemption will someday be repealed and they'll already have their Stasi rules on the books.

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    wylde007 wrote:
    rebfan wrote:
    Thanks. It appears the County needs to do a little house cleaning of their code.
    There's a lot of that. I think some of them because they've just never bothered to repeal the offending ordinances, others I wonder if they don't hope that preemption will someday be repealed and they'll already have their Stasi rules on the books.

    :X
    Or, they may not even know they have such a law. There are thousands of silly laws that have been passed over time that never get purged from codes.

    How do we go about getting them to remove it from their code?

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    Moderator / Administrator Grapeshot's Avatar
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    rebfan wrote:
    wylde007 wrote:
    Or, they may not even know they have such a law. There are thousands of silly laws that have been passed over time that never get purged from codes.

    How do we go about getting them to remove it from their code?
    A letter to the town/county attorney with reference to the local law and a cite to state preemption is frequently enough.

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    Grapeshot wrote:
    rebfan wrote:
    wylde007 wrote:
    Or, they may not even know they have such a law. There are thousands of silly laws that have been passed over time that never get purged from codes.

    How do we go about getting them to remove it from their code?
    A letter to the town/county attorney with reference to the local law and a cite to state preemption is frequently enough.

    Yata hey
    Thanks.

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    Sorry to burst your bubbles, but Cities and counties do have the authority under Va law to regulate hunting and the discharge of firearms, which is what most of the OP's findings pertain to. For example state law requires one to be 100 feet from a road when hunting. My father has land that is in King william County I have hunted for about 36 years. In KW Co. you have to be 100 Yards from a road to hunt and cannot use shotgun loaded with slugs during the deer season.

    However, the last item May be an illegal ordinance since it is refering to the "carrying of a loaded rifle or pistol in a boat or other floating device on public inland waterways is prohibited (County Code section 31-25)". This is regulated by the VDGIF (Va Game Dept). They have control of therivers inVirginia as far as hunting andfishing.I see the game wardens from time to time checking fishing licenseswhen canoeing the Rappahannock River between Remington and Fredericksburg. Since I have a CHP I always carry a handgun on the river in a dry bag with a quick open waterproof zipper. With the CHP I can carry in WMA's and should be good to go on the river too IAW state law.



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    Accomplished Advocate peter nap's Avatar
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    mobeewan wrote:
    Sorry to burst your bubbles, but Cities and counties do have the authority under Va law to regulate hunting and the discharge of firearms, which is what most of the OP's findings pertain to.
    You're right but this is what I was looking at:

    The carrying of a loaded rifle or pistol in a boat or other floating device on public inland waterways is prohibited (County Code section 31-25).

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    Regular Member TFred's Avatar
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    peter nap wrote:
    mobeewan wrote:
    Sorry to burst your bubbles, but Cities and counties do have the authority under Va law to regulate hunting and the discharge of firearms, which is what most of the OP's findings pertain to.
    You're right but this is what I was looking at:

    The carrying of a loaded rifle or pistol in a boat or other floating device on public inland waterways is prohibited (County Code section 31-25).
    Seems clear cut. Even if there is a state code about this, 915 prohibits any local code concerning the carry of a firearm. Hunting and discharge are another matter, but plain old carry... nope.

    TFred

  12. #12
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    Why don't you hire an attonrey to bring an action declaring the local laws invalid?

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    peter nap wrote:
    mobeewan wrote:
    Sorry to burst your bubbles, but Cities and counties do have the authority under Va law to regulate hunting and the discharge of firearms, which is what most of the OP's findings pertain to.
    You're right but this is what I was looking at:

    The carrying of a loaded rifle or pistol in a boat or other floating device on public inland waterways is prohibited (County Code section 31-25).
    That is what I was looking at too, sorry for not making myself more clear in my first post.

  14. #14
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    A couple of observations:

    At common law, and thus in Virginia, any navigable waterway (which, according to the Virginia supreme Court means any creek you can cuss and wrestle a canoe over) is a public highway. So there's no such thing as a "private" lake or pond; there may be some that you can't get to without trespassing over dirt, but the water itself is a "public highway".

    The Potomac, someof its tributaries,and parts of the Bay are either Washington or Maryland, not Virginia.
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    By the way, nothing I say on this website as "user" should be taken as either advertising for attorney services or legal advice, merely personal opinion. Everyone having a question regarding the application of law to the facts of their situation should seek the advice of an attorney competent in the subject matter of the issues presented and licensed to practice in the relevant state.

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