After Pushback, Virginia County Delays Vote On Gun Ban

(AP Photo/John Locher, File)

In a surprising move, supervisors in Albemarle County, Virginia on Wednesday evening decided to hold off a vote on a proposal that would ban lawful carrying of firearms in parks and other county-owned property. Dozens of gun owners and Second Amendment supporters rallied outside the county office building before the board of supervisors started their meeting, and most of them were on hand to voice their displeasure with the proposed ordinance once the meeting was gaveled to order.

While most of Albemarle County is pretty rural, it’s also home to Charlottesville and the University of Virginia, so the county isn’t as conservative as some of its neighbors. That much was evident during the debate over the proposed restrictions on legal gun owners, which are only possible because Democrats in control of Virginia’s legislature have eroded the state’s firearm preemption law.

Supervisor Bea LaPisto Kirtley expressed one of her concerns.

“Let’s say, for lack of a better term, the good guys start shooting what they think is the bad guy,” she said. “But then I may think I don’t know if that’s a good guy or a bad guy, and I may shoot them, or the police may shoot them.”

So… the answer is to ensure that there are no “good guys” who are armed and able to fight back against an attacker? That doesn’t sound like a wise choice to me, or to the gun owners in attendance.

But Steve Harvey, who organized the rally, said outside the county office building that the law is “the most extreme gun control that we can (have) by state law”.

“That’s what this is,” he said. “It’s as extreme as they can make it.”

The county’s top prosecutor, Jim Hingeley, pushed back on that during public comment.

“It’s not gun control because it’s not applicable to citizens in any location other than government property,” he said.

Say what, now? Banning firearms from public locations isn’t gun control? Telling concealed carry holders that they can’t lawfully carry on county-owned property isn’t gun control?

If this proposal isn’t gun control, then why are gun control groups like Moms Demand Action the ones pushing for these types of ordinances?

I hope Hingeley has better arguments when he’s prosecuting violent offenders, because the lack of logic on display in his defense of the proposed ordinance is frightening.

It sounds like supervisors aren’t ready to give up on their ban completely, but a few officials sounded open to the idea of exempting concealed carry licensees from any gun ban on county-owned property, which would be a small step in the right direction.

Of course the best thing for the county to do is nothing at all; leave the law as it is. None of the supervisors could point to any actual problem that’s arisen from legal gun owners lawfully carrying in county parks or government buildings, so why on earth would they choose to declare that the Second Amendment is now null and void on county-owned property?

Kudos to the gun owners who turned out in Albemarle County on Wednesday evening, as well as to the Virginia Citizens Defense League for alerting its members to the proposed gun ban and promoting the rally before the supervisors’ meeting. Being engaged makes a difference, and I have no doubt that if Second Amendment stalwarts weren’t in attendance that the supervisors would have moved ahead with their anti-gun ordinance. Thanks to Second Amendment supporters using their First Amendment rights, however, the attempted infringement on a civil right is still an open question rather than a settled debate.