Dumfries, Virginia, has prohibited firearms at the town office.
The Town Council voted 6-1 to approve the prohibition during its meeting Wednesday. Councilor Shaun Peet cast the lone dissenting vote.
The ordinance only applies to the town-used portion of 17739 Main St., which is Suite 200. It would also apply to any portion of a building the council would use for a meeting if the panel met in another location.
One person was in favor of the proposal, but five people spoke against the ordinance during a public hearing prior to the vote. Some people said the ordinance was confusing and wasn’t clear about exactly where firearms would be prohibited.
Some speakers felt the ordinance was trying to solve a nonexistent problem.
“Those of you that support this legislation are dishonest or ignorant. You’re infringing people’s rights to protect themselves,” said Bob Hand. “A sign at the door? What criminal follows a sign at the door and abides by them? … My 120-pound Tibetan Mastiff drops bigger loads with integrity than you have.”
Peet initially asked for time to fine-tune the ordinance to ensure parks were not included.
“I understand the council building, yes, yes I do,” he said. “But at the parks, we may want to relook at that because some parents may want to feel safe carrying their concealed at the parks.”
Town Manager Keith Rogers Jr. said the ordinance would be enforced through metal detectors and signage. Violation is a class one misdemeanor, which can carry up to one year in prison and a $2,500 fine.
Councilor Tyrone Brown said the ordinance was not about gun rights, but instead with making everyone feel welcome to conduct town business. He said it’s not a safety issue because police officers are stationed at council meetings.
“This right here is not an issue of gun rights. I support guns,” he said. “And all I’m saying is … in this building here, when I see people walk into this building with open carry, I get offended. People who are not comfortable around guns, they get offended. … We want to make sure that this place and where we conduct legislation, they feel safe.”
Nolan Stout covers Prince William County. Reach him at email@example.com or @TheNolanStout on Facebook and Twitter.