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Thread: Severability of Local Ordinances

  1. #1
    Regular Member TFred's Avatar
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    Severability of Local Ordinances

    The new air gun ordinance 15.2-915.4, provides that any local ordinance that does not implement the new requirements "shall be invalid":

    2. That notwithstanding any other provision of law, general or special, any local ordinance adopted prior to the effective date of this act that prohibits the use of pneumatic guns on or within private property with permission of the owner or legal possessor of the property when conducted with reasonable care to prevent a projectile from crossing the bounds of the property shall be invalid.
    Here's my question:

    If such an ordinance is a long, complex ordinance that covers all sort of other things (discharge of actual firearms, for example), does the "shall be invalid" clause apply to the entire ordinance, or just the part on air guns? Paragraph 2 above does not specifically restrict the invalid penalty to just the air gun portions, rendering a plain-text read that would seem to invalidate the entire ordinance. Perhaps there are other sources that clarify?

    What are the severability characteristics of Local Ordinances?

    TFred

  2. #2
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    My opinion is that the law says the offending ordinance is invalid, not the provisions that are offending, therefore the entire ordinance is invalid if it contains any offending provision. IANAL, but I have stayed in the same holiday inn express.

  3. #3
    Accomplished Advocate user's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by youngck View Post
    My opinion is that the law says the offending ordinance is invalid, not the provisions that are offending, therefore the entire ordinance is invalid if it contains any offending provision. IANAL, but I have stayed in the same holiday inn express.
    Correct. The ordinance itself is severable (the code is still the code, even with a particular ordinance gone), but provisions within the ordinance (other than the titles or catchlines) are not.

    However, courts make every effort to "interpret" code sections, statutes, and ordinances, to give effect to whatever is relevant to the case under consideration. If the bad part is not an issue in the case, then they don't need to think about the bad part, on the theory that it's valid "as applied".
    Last edited by user; 10-18-2011 at 06:41 AM.
    Daniel L. Hawes - 540 347 2430 - HTTP://www.VirginiaLegalDefense.com

    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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