Leesburg Council Will Explore Town Hall Gun Ban

A majority of Leesburg Town Council is supporting a continued discussion of banning firearms in Town Hall.      

On Monday night, the council held a work session discussion on prohibiting firearms in town-owned buildings and property. The topic was broached at the request of Mayor Kelly Burk, with a council majority voicing support at a prior meeting for adding the discussion to a work session agenda. 

The discussion drew a packed house in Council Chambers, both with those for and against instituting a firearms ban. A similar scene played out in the county boardroom last spring, when the Board of Supervisors imposed a firearms ban on county-owned properties by a 6-3 vote, along party lines. The City of Alexandria and Arlington and Fairfax counties have also adopted similar ordinances. 

Town Attorney Christopher Spera briefed the council Monday on what powers the Virginia State Code gives to localities in restricting individuals from carrying firearms on municipal property, based on changes passed by the General Assembly last year. The restriction may apply to the possession, carrying or transportation of firearms in government-owned buildings; public parks; recreation or community centers; or in any public street, road, alley, or sidewalk or public right-of-way or any other place of whatever nature that is open to the public and is being used by or is adjacent to a permitted event or an event that would otherwise require a permit.

The code also provides localities with the ability to employ security measures designed to prevent violations of an ordinance, including the use of metal detectors and increased security personnel. 

Exempt from regulation would be firearms carried by law enforcement, security, or military personnel. 

The council members interested in continuing the conversation, however, expressed support for only restricting firearms in one town-owned building—Town Hall. 

“I’m not interested in restricting [firearms in] the parks or any other building except this particular building,” Burk said from the council dais. “This is where people come when things have happened that they are not happy with. It’s no secret that those of us who have been around awhile, some of us have been threatened before. While I don’t care to carry a gun, I would like to feel like I’m safe in this building.”

Burk acknowledged that many of those who carry firearms are “law-abiding citizens,” but she made reference to previous encounters and emotional debates during council meetings that were “very, very touchy.”

Councilman Neil Steinberg wanted to explore extending a firearms building to four town buildings—Town Hall, Ida Lee Park Recreation Center, and the town’s two utility plants, the latter two of which are not open to the public. Only Vice Mayor Marty Martinez supported exploring a ban for all four buildings. 

Both council members Suzanne Fox and Kari Nacy expressed strong opposition to any firearms ban. Fox said she did not believe that a sign on a door noting a firearms ban would be a deterrent to anyone seeking to commit a crime, and instead would unduly infringe on the Second Amendment rights of the public. She said the entire proposal is premised on the idea that law-abiding gun owners “somehow snap.”

“I feel like what we are suggesting here substantially burdens the fundamental right contained in our Constitution,” she said. “There’s no evidence to suggest that restricting law-abiding citizens’ right to bear arms makes that place safer.”

Fox said she would support looking into enhanced security measures, acknowledging Burk’s statement that public meetings have at times become heated.

Nacy said she would vote against any type of proposed firearms ban, “because it personally affects me as a responsibly armed woman who has been attacked and uses personal protection to ensure that never happens to me again.”

Spera will return to a future council work session with more information on what a firearms prohibition in Town Hall would entail. Should the council move forward with considering such a ban, the public would have a chance to share its feedback, with a formal public hearing scheduled at a council business meeting to discuss a change to the Town Code.

Councilman Ara Bagdasarian was absent for Monday’s worksession.

krodriguez@loudounnow.com

12 thoughts on “Leesburg Council Will Explore Town Hall Gun Ban

  • 2021-08-10 at 12:06 pm
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    Ms. Fox seems to have the right idea. When you identify the problem which seems to be “increasing building security” then work the problem as defined. Perhaps if Leesburg Council members would just duplicate what EVERY LCPS school already has they would increase their safety. Suggest installing panic buttons so police could automatically be notified and likely to show up in seconds to the building. The other argument seems more political than meant to solve an actual problem. Isn’t it highly likely the Leesburg police would normally be in close proximity to this building especially for noticed meetings? 🙂 (good job Suzanne)

  • 2021-08-10 at 1:44 pm
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    Would the esteemed members of the Leesburg town council please explain, in detail, how “gun free” zones ensure the safety of those who occupy those spaces?

    For extra credit, please provide the statistics on violence in “gun free” zones versus Constitutionally-compliant ones?

  • 2021-08-10 at 4:04 pm
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    I am sure it makes an active shooter situation better for law enforcement when other civilians whip guns out. Maybe they should pass a law stating that “good guy” carriers should wear white cowboy hats. Then the cops will know who not to shoot.

    • 2021-08-11 at 11:47 am
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      Pssst… the “good guys” won’t be shooting at law enforcement. They won’t be seeking out victims. They will likely be running away from the danger or defending their own lives. They will surrender their firearms when ordered to do so by law enforcement.

      Your irrational fears of law-abiding citizens wanting to legally protect themselves are just that… irrational.

      • 2021-08-11 at 7:39 pm
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        I’m irrational? I don’t feel like I live in a war zone where only the armed survive. Maybe you should wear hardhats or body armor or a hazmat suit. I mean, ya’ never know…

        And! The same people who carry guns “just in case” won’t wear a mask “just in case”. Spare me. So glad these opinions are dying off…que bombastic claims that you will rise all!

        • 2021-08-12 at 11:35 am
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          So you double down on your irrational position?

          I think it’s logical and reasonable to fear violent criminals… those who would cause actual bodily harm to you or your family.

          But you choose to focus on law-abiding citizens who wish to take steps that might ensure their safety.

          Think about that for just a moment…. You loathe your fellow Loudouners to such an extent that you castigate and mock them for exercising their Constitutionally-GUARANTEED rights. But utter not a peep for the actual “bad guys” that are out there.

          Wow. Just wow.

          • 2021-08-13 at 11:26 am
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            There have been studies that show that having a gun puts you in more danger not less. Of course, the studies have been limited since the NRA successfully got the government to ban the CDC from studying it.

            I now totally expect you to say that there are other studies and that the CDC is biased.

            As for protecting one’s family, I have lived around the country and around the world for almost 50yrs and have yet to be in, or have a friend or family member be in a situation where an armed citizen would have been a benefit.

          • 2021-08-13 at 11:41 am
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            Based on statistics, people should do these things as well since there is a greater chance of having it happen then getting shot during a mass shooting.
            – Stay away from motor vehicles
            – Don’t drink alcohol
            – Don’t ride in a plane
            – Don’t go out in nature
            – Only eat foods you can’t choke on
            – Don’t ride a bike
            – Stay away from law enforcement
            – Don’t accidentally shoot yourself

        • 2021-08-12 at 11:43 am
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          And your comment about “these opinions are dying off.”

          You couldn’t be more wrong on that count. There are are more Virginia gun owners and concealed handgun carry permit holders than ever before.

  • 2021-08-11 at 8:58 am
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    Yet another solution in search of a problem. A woman was already assaulted at Ida Lee Rec Center last year. Insuring you can’t defend yourself at the rec center is simply inviting more crime.

    Alexandria has seen a huge increase in shootings since they passed their ordinance.

    Not only do such acts not make anyone safer, they arguably make everyone less safe.

  • 2021-08-11 at 12:58 pm
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    The knee-jerk, guns everywhere crowd sees the inability to carry a deadly weapon into a meeting as an intrusion on their liberty. Give me a break. I am so tired of those who think they have the freedom to carry a deadly weapon hidden in their pocket or run around in a pandemic without being vaccinated, or, well, you know, pose a mortal danger to others and expect us to be fine with that. Darwinism will take care of some of this earnest stupidity but not fast enough…

  • 2021-08-11 at 1:31 pm
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    It seems to be the point of the gun free zone is to ensure no one is murdered. It makes more sense to ban murder. That way it would also prevent other inanimate objects from harming people, i.e. knives, pipes, bats, flame throwers…

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