Loudoun Supervisors Launch Already Controversial Gun Law Review

Loudoun County supervisors have approved a review of some of Virginia’s new gun laws with an eye towards those that affect local government, setting up what will be a difficult conversation when the report comes to them in the fall.

Most gun laws are a state or federal matter, with Loudoun granted limited authority to regulate firearms, mostly extending to defining the populated areas where shooting is prohibited. That has not prevented gun laws and gun violence from being a hot topic in the county boardroom before. Actions during the previous term included voting down a resolution recognizing National Gun Violence Awareness Day, a debate over whether to support proposed “red flag” emergency protective orders in the General Assembly, and passing tweaks to Loudoun’s county code in response to a series of incidents in which gunfire from private shooting ranges landed in neighborhoods and struck homes and, in one case, a person.

But the General Assembly this year expanded localities’ authority over gun safety with a law allowing them to regulate firearms in public buildings, parks, recreation centers, and at events requiring a local permit.

The report, proposed by Supervisor Juli E. Briskman (D-Algonkian), includes no immediate action on that law, but portends a renewed debate over guns in Loudoun. Already, people on both sides of the debate participated in the board’s May 19 public input session to argue for or against the report.

Briskman said she drafted the request for a report so that supervisors can be informed on how new gun laws affect the county, also including the new red flag laws and a law expanding the list of kinds of schools where firearms are prohibited.

Only Supervisor Tony R. Buffington (R-Blue Ridge) voted against the requesting the report.

“I’m looking at the motion and all I see is that we’re asking staff to provide information on legislation that has already passed during this year’s General Assembly session, and so I don’t see why we really need to have a [Board Member Initiative] or board action on this,” Buffington said.

“I think this is an excellent way to establish a common baseline of understanding,” said Supervisor Michael R. Turner (D-Ashburn). “The rhetoric is going to get hyperbolic, I think that’s pretty obvious to everybody, and I, for one—I hope everyone is the same—I’m going to base my decisions going forward on fact, and the sooner we can get a common understanding of what these legislative initiatives mean, then I think the better off we’re all going to be to keep the hyperbolic rhetoric to a minimum.”

Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles) said he doesn’t object to the report itself—“all we’re doing at this point is figuring out what [the new laws] mean for us.” And, he pointed out, if other supervisors push to implement tighter gun laws in Loudoun, that will have an impact on the county’s operations.

“I know that my colleagues have desires to potentially implement those in one way or another, and I think it’s important that we understand what the logistical discussion around that should be,” Letourneau said. “For instance, if you’re going to start regulating firearms in public buildings, does that mean that you’re adding a magnetometer to the building itself? And if you do that, then you have to staff it, and so what is the budgetary implication of doing that, and how do you actually do it?”

Briskman said it has been “a historic year for gun safety legislation in Virginia, and why it wasn’t last year after the Virginia Beach mass shooting, I can’t even explain why.”

The vote came close to the May 31 anniversary of a mass shooting at a municipal building in Virginia Beach, when a city employee fatally shot 12 people and injured four more before he was shot dead by police. It was the largest mass shooting in Virginia since the 2008 Virginia Tech shootings, when a student shot 49 people, killing 32 and wounding 17.

“We lose 1,000 people a year in Virginia to gun violence, needless gun violence, and our colleagues in the Virginia legislature have taken bold and meaningful action, and I really feel like it’s time for the county to follow up an follow through on that,” Briskman said.

Supervisors voted 7-1-1 to request the report, with Buffington opposed and Supervisor Caleb A. Kershner (R-Catoctin) absent. It is scheduled to come to supervisors in September.

rgreene@loudounnow.com

3 thoughts on “Loudoun Supervisors Launch Already Controversial Gun Law Review

  • 2020-05-22 at 10:59 am
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    “Briskman said it has been “a historic year for gun safety legislation in Virginia, and why it wasn’t last year after the Virginia Beach mass shooting, I can’t even explain why.”

    Gee, I dunno’. Maybe because we generally don’t punish the masses for the acts of criminals? It’s that ole’ Due Process’ thing — a legal protection in the U.S. and Virginia constitutions. It’s a freedom thing — Finger lady probably wouldn’t understand.

  • 2020-05-22 at 12:57 pm
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    Juli, gun violence is committed by people who don’t obey the laws, rather than making more laws that will be disobeyed, why not enforce the laws that are already on the books. I have owned guns for over 30 years and have not committed any crimes. Please leave the law abiding gin owners alone and go after those who disobey the laws.

  • 2020-05-23 at 6:12 pm
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    Virginia’s ignorant, tyrannical government has spoken. But 91 out of 95 total counties also have declared their positions. It’ll be interesting to watch coonman join the battle against far flung armed subordinates who seem determined to defy unconstitutional laws. At the end, they’ll learn it’s not the business of government.

    Noncompliance with gun control laws worldwide ranges between 80 percent and 98 percent. For example, to date, 44,000 of New York’s estimated one million assault weapons, about four percent, have been registered. And law enforcement has made few arrests for breaking the law.

    In other words, if nobody obeys the laws, the government would face a colossal mutiny. Perhaps our politicians need to learn the hard way that authority cannot exist without subordinate acceptance. And acceptance simply does not exist. Governor blackface will need to order his local and state police to bully millions of peaceable, lawful citizens.

    His government will need to issue millions of warrants. Police will need to mobilize hundreds of SWAT teams. Each confiscation will need to be planned. Groups will need to be transported to homes, cabins and storage sites. They’ll need to penetrate fences, cut locks, break down doors and search rooms. They’ll need to be prepared for armed resistance.

    Red flag states include a small band of ignorant, tyrannical governors shoving the U.S. to the brink of catastrophe. Red flag laws were created to transfer authority from licensed psychiatrists to unqualified persons more obedient to democrats, e.g., local judges and nosy neighbors.

    Criminal prosecution of accusers for malice or lying makes good press but it’s very difficult to prosecute and virtually impossible to prove. Due process requires reports from two psychiatrists, one from each side, legal representation, arraignment, indictment and trial by jury. Public defenders offer little comfort.

    Nobody wants criminals to have firearms but to be taken seriously, if the accused is a danger to himself (not against the law) or others, he should be legally arrested. In other words, take the man but leave the arms. Every state allows for the involuntary detention of dangerous individuals for psychiatric evaluation. The difference is red flag laws only confiscate arms, the obvious objective.

    I’ve often wondered how the police, teacher, classmate or aunt would know the rightful owners of which firearms. Seems law enforcement would risk serious lawsuits if they err on that point. Currently, that point is being litigated in Lori Rodriguez v. City of San Jose. That case has been accepted for conference by the U.S. Supreme Court.

    Also submitted for Supreme Court review are Pena v. Cid, Mance v. Barr, and Culp v. Madigan. However, the major cost of these laws is the loss of trust between peaceable, lawful citizens and their elected officials.

    One look at Virginia reveals why armed citizens are becoming more important with every election cycle. Federal Firearms Licensees must be allowed to stay open during national emergencies because arms purchases must undergo a background check and cannot be delivered or mail ordered. A government with the power to oppress commerce in arms is very dangerous and must be rejected.

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