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Thread: James Lee Community Center - Falls Church, VA

  1. #1
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    James Lee Community Center - Falls Church, VA

    I recently noticed our local community center in Fairfax County, and some of the classes and resources that they provide. Today, my wife and I stopped by to investigate the facilities and gather more information. After touring the building, we were given copies of their registration forms, which include the following in their "Code of Conduct":

    Code:
    ...Behavior contrary to these principles will result in suspension or expulsion from the community center and in some cases prosecution.
    
    ...
    
    No drugs, alcohol or weapons are allowed inside or on the grounds of the community center.
    The Fairfax County Department of Community and Recreation Services operates and manages the Community Centers in the county. My local community center (James Lee Community Center) used to be an elementary school, but is now owned and operated by the DCRS.

    I am in the process of drafting an email/letter to them requesting them to either provide the authorization under state law for this prohibition, or to remove the prohibition on carrying in and on the grounds of the community center. Personally, I don't intend to carry into the building when I go to use their fitness center (as workout clothes aren't exactly conducive to carry), but I would still leave my firearm secured in my car (something prohibited by their current Code of Conduct). I also would plan to carry (both open and concealed, depending on circumstances) if I were attending other activities (such as community theater productions).

    I know that preemption is found in 15.2-915, the general prohibition on carrying concealed is in 18.2-308, and the prohibition on carrying on school property is in 18.2-308.1, but I cannot find where the law actually defines what is a "public, private or religious elementary, middle or high school" to verify that they can't claim that the community center is part of such a facility.

    Any suggestions? I'll post a draft of the email/letter before I send it so I can get more eyes to catch anything I may have missed.
    Alma 43:47 - "And again, the Lord has said that: Ye shall defend your families even unto bloodshed...."
    Self defense isn't just a good idea, it's a commandment.

  2. #2
    Regular Member ProShooter's Avatar
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    I do not believe (at least not that I've ever seen) a definition for "public, private or religious elementary, middle or high school".

    I think it just falls into one of those common use definitions.
    Last edited by ProShooter; 04-25-2011 at 07:13 PM.
    James Reynolds

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    Campaign Veteran skidmark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ProShooter View Post
    I do not believe (at least not that I've ever seen) a definition for "public, private or religious elementary, middle or high school".

    I think it just falls into one of those common use definitions.
    Ed, I disagree. Elementary, middle and high schools are those which are certified by the Virginia Department of Education as such. You may contact that agency to determine if any facility purporting to be such is in fact so certified. Any agency purporting to be an elementary, middle or high school which operates without the requisite certification should be reported to the Va Dept. of Education if for no other reason than the students attending will not receive official credit for the instruction they receive, or for meetingcomplying with the mandatory school attendance laws.

    Children that are home schooled do not attend school. They are granted an exemption from the mandatory school attendance laws and receive credit for participation in an approved alternative education program. Thus, the presence of a firearm in a home where home schooling takes place is not a violation of the law prohibiting firearms on school property.

    Similarly, the presence of home-schooled students, like the presence of students who attend a conventional school, at some public venue - unless that venue is presently used for the sole and exclusive use of the students, may not use the school restriction on firearms.

    I apologize for the lack of citations. My HD (computerese, folks, not Home Defense) is wonky and my saved stuff is not available. If anyone insists I provide the cites I will try to do so instead of letting you do some research on your own to see if what I say can be verified.

    stay safe.

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    Founder's Club Member - Moderator ed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grylnsmn View Post
    I would still leave my firearm secured in my car
    Cool! What kinda firearm? What make/model car? When will you be there next?

    In your letter I would tell them politely (if indeed it is NOT a K-12 school) that their "NO FIREARMS POLICY" is in violation of the law and that you would like it corrected immediately and then be notified that it has been so that you can report back here too.

    Ed
    Carry On.

    Ed

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    Founder's Club Member - Moderator ed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skidmark View Post
    Ed, I disagree.
    You are so used to disagreeing with me that you call Jim "Ed"?
    Carry On.

    Ed

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    SNIP
    Quote Originally Posted by skidmark View Post
    Ed, I disagree.
    Did you just call ProShooter 'Ed'?? lol

    Correct regarding the home schooling.... 'Education, begins at home'

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    Founder's Club Member - Moderator ed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blk97F150 View Post
    Did you just call ProShooter 'Ed'??
    um.. yes , he did.. Can you not see my response right above yours?
    Carry On.

    Ed

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    Campaign Veteran skidmark's Avatar
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    Yes, you both look alike. So do your avatars - both are round.

    However, I will note that Ed is willing to drive over the the community center to babysit the OPs handgun left in the car while the OP works out. Maybe it is because it is closer to Ed than to Jim? Certainly Ed did not intend anyone to think he would commit a crime, did he?

    stay safe.

  9. #9
    Founder's Club Member - Moderator ed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skidmark View Post
    I will note that Ed is willing to drive over the the community center to babysit the OPs handgun left in the car while the OP works out.
    I was not going to babysit it.. I was going to get a description of the guy that steals it... maybe even a photo or video..
    Carry On.

    Ed

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    Regular Member Neplusultra's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ed View Post
    Cool! What kinda firearm? What make/model car? When will you be there next?

    In your letter I would tell them politely (if indeed it is NOT a K-12 school) that their "NO FIREARMS POLICY" is in violation of the law and that you would like it corrected immediately and then be notified that it has been so that you can report back here too.

    Ed
    Or you can just pull a Danbus and collect a nice paycheck :^).

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    Draft letter

    Here's a draft of what I have so far:
    I recently discovered our local community center and toured the facility to learn what services are available there. At the end, I was given registration forms both for the community center as well as its fitness center. One part of the "Code of Conduct" concerns me, because it appears to be in violation of state laws concerning firearm regulation.

    Your "Code of Conduct" states "No drugs, alcohol, or weapons are allowed inside or on the grounds of the community center." (Emphasis added.) This would appear to be in violation of Virginia Code 15.2-915, which states:

    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.


    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. (Emphasis added.)


    Based on a plain text reading of 15.2-915, the provision in the "Code of Conduct" that prohibits "weapons ... inside or on the grounds of the community center" would be invalid as it applies to firearms, and any attempt to enforce it through "suspension or expulsion from the community center and in some cases prosecution" would be a clear violation of state law preempting local regulation of firearms. State law prohibits carrying a concealed firearm without a permit ( 18.2-308), but does not prohibit the open carrying of a firearm either with or without a permit. State law also prohibits carrying a firearm on school property ( 18.2-308.1), but this provision only applies to "the property of any public, private or religious elementary, middle or high school, including buildings and grounds". The Community Centers are not a "public, private or religious elementary, middle or high school", and so they would not fall under the prohibition listed in 18.2-308.1.

    Could you please provide to me a reference for the statute that authorizes Fairfax County to prohibit the possession of firearms "in or on the grounds of the community center"? In the absence of such authority, will you please modify your "Code of Conduct" to conform with 15.2-915 with regards to firearms.
    To me, that seems to about cover it, but it would be nice to get some additional input from those with more experience in this sort of letter.

    Quote Originally Posted by ed View Post
    Cool! What kinda firearm? What make/model car? When will you be there next?
    I specifically got a COM safe to keep in my car (out of sight) for those rare times when I am required to disarm (such as at work, visiting the courthouse, or when going to our local school to vote). My car is that nondescript one over there, with no bumper stickers, decals, or other noticeable identifying features. Good luck figuring out which one it is.

    You'll also note that I didn't mention the part about securing my firearm in the car in my letter draft.
    Alma 43:47 - "And again, the Lord has said that: Ye shall defend your families even unto bloodshed...."
    Self defense isn't just a good idea, it's a commandment.

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    Founder's Club Member - Moderator ed's Avatar
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    OMG.. Way too wordy for me.

    Mr/Ms -XXX

    I saw that it is your policy to ban firearms. This ban violates VA law. Please correct this immediately and let me know when it has ban. Thanks.

    Love,
    Ed
    Carry On.

    Ed

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    Accomplished Advocate peter nap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ed View Post
    OMG.. Way too wordy for me.

    Mr/Ms -XXX

    I saw that it is your policy to ban firearms. This ban violates VA law. Please correct this immediately and let me know when it has ban. Thanks.

    Love,
    Ed
    Too short!

    Mr/Ms -XXX

    I saw that it is your policy to ban firearms. This ban violates VA law. Please correct this immediately and let me know when it has ban. Thanks.

    Or else



    Love,
    Ed



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    Quote Originally Posted by ed View Post
    OMG.. Way too wordy for me.

    Mr/Ms -XXX

    I saw that it is your policy to ban firearms. This ban violates VA law. Please correct this immediately and let me know when it has ban. Thanks.

    Love,
    Ed
    I want to give them the information they need to verify that it is against state law.

    However, in interest of shortening it a bit, I've deleted the second half of the next-to-last paragraph, starting at "State law prohibits".
    Alma 43:47 - "And again, the Lord has said that: Ye shall defend your families even unto bloodshed...."
    Self defense isn't just a good idea, it's a commandment.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ed View Post
    um.. yes , he did.. Can you not see my response right above yours?
    No Ed... I can't see that. Why don't you send me a post card with it?

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    Founder's Club Member - Moderator ed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grylnsmn View Post
    I want to give them the information they need to verify that it is against state law.
    They probably already know and just were lazy in correcting the rules.. then figured.. "hey? nobody has said anything.. ". Do it your way. I have done this well over a hundred times now. Short and simple works for me. If they decline or get nasty then I quote law and cite and sue (in the case of city of Alex)

    Ed
    Carry On.

    Ed

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    Quote Originally Posted by ed View Post
    They probably already know and just were lazy in correcting the rules.. then figured.. "hey? nobody has said anything.. ". Do it your way. I have done this well over a hundred times now. Short and simple works for me. If they decline or get nasty then I quote law and cite and sue (in the case of city of Alex)

    Ed
    I'll send the email first thing tomorrow morning, after checking to see if there are any other suggested revisions.
    Alma 43:47 - "And again, the Lord has said that: Ye shall defend your families even unto bloodshed...."
    Self defense isn't just a good idea, it's a commandment.

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    Regular Member TFred's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grylnsmn View Post
    I want to give them the information they need to verify that it is against state law.

    However, in interest of shortening it a bit, I've deleted the second half of the next-to-last paragraph, starting at "State law prohibits".
    JMHO, but there are two likely scenarios:

    1) They already know, in which case they will fix it, or they won't and we'll have to get VCDL to threaten to sue them.

    2) They are clueless, in which case they are going to do their own confirmation, and nothing you say in a letter (possibly other than a quick pointer-reference to the section of code for preemption) will in any way influence their course of action. They will consult with their own legal staff.

    Either way, writing a letter of persuasion will not influence the outcome at all.

    Thanks for taking the effort to get this fixed!

    TFred

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    Quote Originally Posted by TFred View Post
    JMHO, but there are two likely scenarios:

    1) They already know, in which case they will fix it, or they won't and we'll have to get VCDL to threaten to sue them.

    2) They are clueless, in which case they are going to do their own confirmation, and nothing you say in a letter (possibly other than a quick pointer-reference to the section of code for preemption) will in any way influence their course of action. They will consult with their own legal staff.

    Either way, writing a letter of persuasion will not influence the outcome at all.
    You're probably right, but I figure it doesn't take that much more effort to lay out the details. What's the worst that could happen? They say no (in which case we have to take more steps to make them change it)?

    Quote Originally Posted by TFred View Post
    Thanks for taking the effort to get this fixed!

    TFred
    If I don't, who will? (Not that I'm calling for volunteers to take over...)
    Alma 43:47 - "And again, the Lord has said that: Ye shall defend your families even unto bloodshed...."
    Self defense isn't just a good idea, it's a commandment.

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    Founder's Club Member - Moderator ed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grylnsmn View Post
    If I don't, who will? (Not that I'm calling for volunteers to take over...)
    On almost a weekly basis, VCDL members write into VCDL to tell us of some sign or rule. I got one yesterday that I am working..

    Usually one of the VCDL EM's (Executive Members) writes a note/letter/POSTCARD ;-) or calls and tries to fix it. If it gets fixed.. it usually gets published in the VA-Alert. If not, we use other methods.

    But people should CERTAINLY make the attempt themselves if they are so compelled.

    Ed
    Carry On.

    Ed

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    Regular Member TFred's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grylnsmn View Post
    You're probably right, but I figure it doesn't take that much more effort to lay out the details. What's the worst that could happen? They say no (in which case we have to take more steps to make them change it)?
    Well, the worst that could happen is you get a public servant with an inflated ego who takes the stance "who does this ya-hoo think they are trying to tell us how to run our community center?"

    Doubtful... but that's why I would prefer to just tell them what's wrong, and let them draw their own conclusions. In all likelihood, your letter will work just fine.



    TFred

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    Founder's Club Member - Moderator ed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TFred View Post
    In all likelihood, your letter will work just fine.
    agreed.
    Carry On.

    Ed

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  23. #23
    Regular Member ProShooter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skidmark View Post
    Ed, I disagree. Elementary, middle and high schools are those which are certified by the Virginia Department of Education as such. You may contact that agency to determine if any facility purporting to be such is in fact so certified. Any agency purporting to be an elementary, middle or high school which operates without the requisite certification should be reported to the Va Dept. of Education if for no other reason than the students attending will not receive official credit for the instruction they receive, or for meetingcomplying with the mandatory school attendance laws.

    Children that are home schooled do not attend school. They are granted an exemption from the mandatory school attendance laws and receive credit for participation in an approved alternative education program. Thus, the presence of a firearm in a home where home schooling takes place is not a violation of the law prohibiting firearms on school property.

    Similarly, the presence of home-schooled students, like the presence of students who attend a conventional school, at some public venue - unless that venue is presently used for the sole and exclusive use of the students, may not use the school restriction on firearms.

    I apologize for the lack of citations. My HD (computerese, folks, not Home Defense) is wonky and my saved stuff is not available. If anyone insists I provide the cites I will try to do so instead of letting you do some research on your own to see if what I say can be verified.

    stay safe.
    Wow, that's way too technical.

    I'm just going to go with the common sense definition
    James Reynolds

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    Email sent

    I'll let everyone know when I get a reply.
    Alma 43:47 - "And again, the Lord has said that: Ye shall defend your families even unto bloodshed...."
    Self defense isn't just a good idea, it's a commandment.

  25. #25
    Regular Member Marco's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grylnsmn View Post
    I'll let everyone know when I get a reply.
    Why no just contact the City Attorney?
    We all know the Community center is going to contact him and ask his legal opinion.
    Cut out the middle man and let the City attorney notify the community center about their legal notice, than if they don't comply, someone can be the test case and so fourth.



    The Office of the Commonwealth's Attorney is charged primarily with the prosecution of crime. This office prosecutes criminal and traffic matters in the Fairfax County General District Court, criminal and delinquency matters in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court, and all felony cases in the Fairfax County Circuit Court. The office handles both the violation of county ordinances and the violation of state statutes.
    Public Web: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/living/legal/




    Phone Numbers
    Primary Phone #: 703-246-2776
    TTY: 711

    Addresses
    Building Name: Judicial Center / Jennings Building
    Physical Address Line 1: 4110 Chain Bridge Road
    City, State, Zip: Fairfax, VA 22030
    Last edited by Marco; 04-26-2011 at 11:39 AM.

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