Fairfax Co. considers banning some loaded guns in vehicles

WASHINGTON — Amid the national debate about gun control, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors made a move Tuesday that could result in a ban on drivers having loaded shotguns and rifles in their vehicles.

The board voted unanimously to analyze the idea and study the pros and cons.

The issue will be discussed further during a public safety meeting in June.

“One of the concerns is the enforceability of this particular ordinance,” said board chairman Sharon Bulova, who supports the proposal but voiced some skepticism. “It’s not perfect legislation, but this is a tool that we should adopt.”

The board’s vote came after a group of Democrats in Virginia’s General Assembly sent a letter to county leaders, lobbying for the ordinance.

“The governing body of any county or city may by ordinance make it unlawful for any person to transport, possess or carry a loaded shotgun or loaded rifle in any vehicle on any public street, road, or highway within such locality,” the lawmakers said in their letter. “We do not believe that there is a need for loaded shotguns or loaded rifles on Fairfax County’s public roads.”

Similar ordinances have been enacted in numerous jurisdictions around the state including Fauquier and Loudoun counties and the cities of Alexandria and Fredericksburg.

“High emotions that come with traffic congestion in our region have led to instances where firearms have been discharged in incidents of road rage,” the lawmakers said. “Requiring that shotguns and rifles are not loaded at the beginning of a trip will help to reduce the potential for such split-second, life-changing decisions to occur in a moment of anger.”

However, as Bulova noted, the ordinance could be difficult to enforce.

It would come with loopholes that could allow drivers a pass if they are carrying the weapons for personal protection because they fear for their lives.

Also, the penalty for violating the ordinance would be relatively low.

“It’s just a $100 fine, which is not that much of a prohibition,” Bulova said.

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