Hamilton PTA Raises Concerns Over Nearby Gun Sales

The Bullets-n-Beans weapons retailer and coffee shop planned in Hamilton continues to draw opposition, most recently from parents concerned about student safety.

During the July 11 Hamilton Town Council meeting, Hamilton Elementary School PTA President Jenna Nemes spoke about concerns of parents and some residents over allowing a gun store within 1,000 feet of the school. She cited a state PTA resolution declaring that the presence of firearms retailers within any gun-free school zone was inconsistent with a safe learning environment.

The former Hamilton bank building on E. Colonial Highway. (Douglas Graham/Loudoun Now)
The former Hamilton bank building on E. Colonial Highway.
(Douglas Graham/Loudoun Now)

“The concern is there is no parking,” Nemes said, referring to the former bank property on the corner of Colonial Highway and St. Paul’s Road.  “[Gun shop] customers will be walking within the 1,000 feet gun-free zone, either to find parking or back to their car.”

According to the resolution, which was passed recently, the federal Gun Free Zone Act prohibits an individual from possessing a firearm in a school zone—defined as within 1,000 feet of the grounds of a public, parochial or private school—but exceptions to the law permit the sale of firearms, ammunition and accessories within a school zone. Under the state code, local governments are prevented from restricting firearms businesses in proximity to schools, the resolution noted.

In a previous council meeting, Town Attorney Maureen Gilmore said her research indicated that state law would not allow the council to prohibit the sale of firearms on the property.

The Virginia PTA resolution, however, “supports providing local governments with the ability to determine the distance firearms retailers must be located from schools when both are operating within designated Gun Free School Zones.”

Kevin Jones is the owner of Advanced Airsoft Operations who plans to offer gun sales and security training at 62 E. Colonial Highway.

Reached while on vacation, Jones said he had given a member of the PTA a tour of the former bank building and explained the services and training instruction he intends to provide.

“Our focus is safety and oriented toward individuals and families,” he said in an email. Jones said he had asked her to convey a request to Nemes for a similar tour and conversation to alleviate some of the concerns.

Jones received an occupancy permit for the retail gun store and training facilities, but will have to apply for a special exception from the Town Council for the Bullets-n-Beans coffee shop as town’s C-2 zoning district does not allow food establishments as a by-right use.


6 thoughts on “Hamilton PTA Raises Concerns Over Nearby Gun Sales

  • 2016-07-21 at 11:59 am

    The laws exceptions include possession on private property, among other circumstances. This business is private property. The most rudimentary of research would have educated an individual of that fact.

    I wonder who it was on the Hamilton town council who duped the PTA into pushing this erroneous position?

  • 2016-07-21 at 4:39 pm

    What a ridiculous objection by the PTA! Loudoun County has certainly changed…and nothen for the better!

  • 2016-07-21 at 4:44 pm

    Also, if there is a gun store close to the elementary school, it will make it a safer place! Considering a “Gun Free Zone” should be called a “sitting duck zone”! 🙂

  • 2016-07-25 at 11:28 am

    Gun shops don’t need to be near schools. I completely agree with the PTA on this one. Do we really need another gun shop anyway?! How about a bakery, or just coffee? I guess at least this retailer is teaching gun safety.

    • 2016-08-17 at 7:23 am

      First of all, a zoning exception is required to make the property a “cafe or coffee shop,” and the owner has already applied for such exception. Second, we need another de rigeur cafe or coffee shop in this area like a hole in the head. (No pun intended — or was it? ) Finally, I assure you that far more inappropriate things have happened in the area around the school over the years than the legal sale of firearms and safety training.

  • 2016-08-17 at 7:36 am

    Why is the PTA making the completely disingenuous argument about traffic? The building was a bank, and then it was an art gallery. Mosby’s Outlet generates far more traffic in the same area. The shop across from the post office has zero parking, and it has been a commercial property for as long as I can remember, which is more than 46 years.

    For the PTA to have any credibility, it needs to air its TRUE objection, which is about guns. And then the group needs to consider that the school property has been surrounded by responsible gun owners, again for as long as I can remember, and they just didn’t know about it.

    There is zero evidence to suggest that proximity to a gun shop is related to an increase in the incidence of crime, gun violence or accidental shootings. If the PTA hassles the gun shop out of town, I hope his next venture in that space involves lingerie or pornography.

    Stop the gun witch hunt.

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