Winchester, Virginia wasn’t named for the iconic rifle (in fact, the city was established more than 100 years before the iconic Winchester Model 1866 was first unveiled), but it’s still home to many Second Amendment supporters. Hopefully they’ll be using their voices to speak out in opposition to a proposed ban on firearms in many public places that’s on Tuesday’s city council agenda.
As NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action describes the proposal:
Ordinance No. O-2021-1 prohibits firearms, ammunition, and components in public buildings, public parks, and on public streets and sidewalks where, or adjacent to where, certain events are occurring. There are no exemptions for storage in vehicles or for concealed handgun permit holders. This prohibition applies to both permitted events and events that “would otherwise require a permit,” making it extremely difficult for law-abiding citizens to determine which areas might be, or might become, “gun-free zones.” Individuals who live in an area where an event is occurring may not enter or leave their own property with a firearm. Because this ban includes “components,” citizens may find themselves in legal trouble for accidentally entering one of these vague “gun-free zones” with something as simple as a shell casing forgotten in a pocket or accidentally left in a vehicle.
Winchester is technically in northern Virginia, but it lies outside of the D.C. suburbs, where an ordinance like this wouldn’t raise too many eyebrows.
I’d like to think that things are a little different in Winchester than, say, Fairfax County, but this ordinance would be bad news no matter where it’s enacted.
As NRA-ILA points out, the vague standard for when and where the carrying of firearms would be banned leaves law-abiding gun owners open to arrest and prosecution even if they had no idea that they were in a temporary “gun-free zone.”
Additionally, based on the language of the proposed ordinance, gun-owning residents of Winchester could find themselves unable to leave or return to their home with their lawfully-carried firearm, which seems to me like an egregious violation of their Second Amendment rights.
Several localities in Virginia have passed similar ordinances since the General Assembly weakened the state’s firearms preemption law last year and allowed cities and counties to impose these types of gun-free zones, but they’ve generally been imposed in deep-blue portions of the state like the D.C. ‘burbs and the state capitol of Richmond. The fact that the city council in Winchester is considering a gun ban of their own is troubling, and I hope that the council’s online meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday evening will be well-attended by Second Amendment advocates who are prepared to voice their objections to attempt to infringe on their right to bear arms.
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