Arlington County bans firearms in government buildings, parks

The Arlington County Board in Virginia voted unanimously on Saturday to pass an ordinance that bans guns in county government buildings and parks.

The county will post notice at entrances to parks, buildings, recreation and community centers where the ban will take effect. The restrictions will also apply to certain special events that require a county permit.

Arlington’s move followed the Virginia General Assembly’s passage of sweeping gun control legislation earlier this year, which included a law that allows localities to set their own rules on the presence of firearms in public.

“Arlington sought and supported the common-sense gun laws passed by the General Assembly earlier this year,” Board Chair Libby Garvey said in a news release.

After hearing from many people, both for and against this measure, the Board has adopted gun restrictions that we believe reflect the values of our community.”

The ordinance makes it illegal to possess or transport any firearms or ammunition at any of the designated locations. The ban applies to holders of concealed carry permits as well as other permit holders. Violations will be treated as a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Exceptions to the ordinance include military personnel who are acting within the scope of their official duties, sworn or retired law enforcement officers, and private security personnel hired by the county when in county-owned buildings or on county-owned properties.

The county expects to post signage in restricted areas and buildings within 30 days, and authorities can only enforce the law where there is clear signage that guns are prohibited.

A number of localities in Northern Virginia have followed the General Assembly’s lead.

Alexandria’s city council passed nearly identical legislation in June, and Loudoun County’s board of supervisors voted earlier this month to direct its staff to write a similar ordinance for review.

Thomas Robertson

Thomas Robertson is an Associate Producer and Web Writer/Editor at WTOP. After graduating in 2019 from James Madison University, Thomas moved away from Virginia for the first time in his life to cover the local government beat for a small daily newspaper in Zanesville, Ohio.

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