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Local Lawmakers Introduce Gun Control Bills

by ARLnow.com | January 16, 2013 at 9:15 pm | 737 views | 135 Comments

Two state lawmakers who represent parts of Arlington have proposed a gun safety legislation package in the Virginia General Assembly.

State Sen. Adam Ebbin and Del. Patrick Hope, both Democrats, introduced bills that would close the so-called “gun show loophole,” require universal background checks on gun purchases, require gun owners to report stolen firearms, and restrict weapon sales to the mentally ill. To drive home the point, the lawmakers recorded two videos (above and below, after the jump) showing them buying a handgun without a background check and buying a high-capacity magazine at a recent gun show in Chantilly, Va.

The legislation was introduced Wednesday, a day before President Obama proposed legislation to require universal background checks, ban high capacity magazines, and ban assault-style weapons.

The gun control bills face an uphill battle in the Republican-controled state legislature; Hope and Ebbin called on Virginia residents to contact their legislators in support of the legislation.

From a press release:

Virginia State Senator Adam P. Ebbin (D-Alexandria) and Delegate Patrick A. Hope (D-Arlington) have introduced a package of gun safety legislation to require universal background checks on prospective firearms purchasers (SB 1232 / HB 2025), close the gun show loophole, and tighten restrictions on the sale of weapons to the mentally ill (SB 1109 / HB 2221).

SB 1109 and HB 2221 would make it a Class 6 felony to sell firearms to persons found mentally incapacitated or who have been involuntarily admitted.

Ebbin also introduced legislation to require the reporting of lost or stolen firearms (SB 965) and to outlaw firearms in legislative buildings (SB 1012).

“We easily purchased a handgun at a Virginia gun show, without undergoing a background check. Sadly, nearly 40% of all gun sales are conducted without a background check. In the interest of community safety, it’s not too much to ask for responsible gun purchasers to undergo a background check to screen for criminal history or history of serious mental illness,” the two wrote in a joint statement.

The lawmakers discussed their visit to a gun show in a January 15th news conference at the Virginia Capitol. Hope showed the High Standard Sentinel Revolver he bought for $175; because he purchased the gun from a private dealer, he did not have to undergo a background check to screen for a criminal record. “Today, a felon with a violent past can walk into a gun show or go on the Internet and buy any gun with no questions asked,” Hope said. “A law we could pass today, requiring universal background checks for all gun sales, would have an almost immediate impact on gun safety. No responsible gun owner is afraid of a background check.”

Displaying a 30-round ammunition magazine he purchased for $20, Ebbin said, “Buying a 30-round magazine should not be as easy as buying a candy bar.” He noted that a 30-round magazine was used in the recent Newtown, Connecticut tragedy that left 26 dead.

Citing the need to pass SB 965, Ebbin said, “When a gun is stolen, a deadly weapon is in criminal hands—a combination we all want to avoid. Reporting lost or stolen guns can help police avert a tragedy.”

Hope and Ebbin called on Virginians to contact their legislators in support of the gun safety legislation.

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BREAKING: Man Charged in Fatal Christmas Eve Accident

by ARLnow.com | January 16, 2013 at 4:20 pm | 2,925 views | 80 Comments

Firefighters work to extricate the driver of a vehicle involved in a critical accident on Glebe Road (photo courtesy "Dixie")

A 21-year-old Alexandria man has been charged in the Christmas Eve death of a pedestrian in Ballston.

Farhan Khan (photo courtesy ACPD)The victim, 30-year-old Shabnam Motahhar-Tehrani of Nokesville, Va., was standing on a sidewalk around 4:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve when the suspect ran a red light, according to police, causing a crash.

Motahhar-Tehrani was struck by the suspect’s vehicle as a result of the crash. She was transported to a local trauma center where she was pronounced dead at 8:00 p.m.

The suspect, Farhan Mohammad Khan, was charged with involuntary manslaughter after an investigation by the Arlington County Police Department. He’s being held without bond and faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

From an ACPD press release:

The Arlington County Police Department has taken a 21 year old Alexandria man into custody on an involuntary manslaughter charge stemming from a Christmas Eve fatal pedestrian accident. Farhan Mohammad Khan, 21, of Alexandria, VA is currently being held without bond in the Arlington County Detention Facility.

Khan was traveling northbound on N. Glebe Road at 4:30 p.m. on December 24, 2012 when he ran a red light and struck a vehicle in the intersection of N. Randolph Street. The accident caused his vehicle to spin out of control, striking 30 year old Shabnam Motahhar-Tehrani of Nokesville, VA as she was standing on the sidewalk. She was pronounced dead at INOVA Fairfax Hospital at 8:00 p.m. that evening.

The involuntary manslaughter charge is a Class 5 felony and carries a maximum sentence of up to ten years.

Photo (top) courtesy “Dixie.” Photo (middle right) courtesy ACPD.

Independent’s Day: Solitary Confinement

by Jason Howell | January 16, 2013 at 3:00 pm | 761 views | 22 Comments

Independent’s Day is a weekly opinion column by published on Wednesdays. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Independent Congressional candidate Jason Howell“Torture is always wrong.” That’s not just a bumper sticker sitting on my desk; it’s also a quote from Rev. Richard Killmer, Executive Director of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT).

On December 3rd of last year, less than a month after the election, I had two options for continued civic participation: attend the Realize Rosslyn Kickoff Event or the Program on Virginia’s Use of Solitary Confinement. I chose the latter. The Program on Virginia’s Use of Solitary Confinement was held at Arlington Central Library and hosted by NRCAT, Social Action Linking Together (SALT), and Amnesty International (Arlington Chapter). Each speaker highlighted a reality that can be lost on the majority of us who have never had the experience: extensive, unlimited, solitary confinement is a violation of the 8th Amendment’s protection from cruel and unusual punishments.

In August of 1998, in Wise County Virginia, the Red Onion State Prison opened as a security level “S.” Its Virginia location was likely the reason for the presence of State Delegate Patrick Hope (D-Arlington) at the meeting I attended. According to Red Onion’s website, their average population is 799 prisoners but a Washington Post article reported 505 of 745 inmates were held in solitary confinement as of last October. I have no way of knowing whether two-thirds of inmates housed by Red Onion “deserve” lonely lockdown for 23 hours per day. The prisoners were accused of crimes and sentenced by our criminal courts after being afforded all of the normal rights we associate with our justice system. What the meeting I attended highlighted however, was to the extent that they were being punished versus being rehabilitated.

The mission of the Virginia Department of Corrections is to enhance public safety by providing effective programs, re-entry services, and supervision of sentenced offenders in a humane, cost efficient manner, consistent with sound correctional principles and constitutional standards. Accomplishing any part of that mission is impossible if the 8th Amendment to our United States Constitution is not being upheld.

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Crime Report: Grabbed from Behind

by ARLnow.com | January 16, 2013 at 2:15 pm | 2,949 views | 22 Comments

Two women were followed by men and grabbed from behind while walking home this past week, according to police.

Early Sunday morning, a woman was returning home in North Rosslyn when two men followed her, grabbed her, and possibly took some money before she was able to break free. From this week’s Arlington County crime report:

ROBBERY, 01/13/13, 1800 block of N. Quinn Street. At 3:17 am on January 13, a victim was returning home when she noticed two male subjects behind her. One male subject followed the victim into her apartment complex and grabbed her from behind. The victim struggled to break free and scream, but the subject held onto the victim and put his hand over her mouth. Eventually, the victim was able to break free and the suspect fled by foot. Some cash belonging to the victim seemed to be missing, but it is unclear if the suspect took the money. The subjects are described as two Hispanic males. One of the subjects stood on the outside of the apartment complex, while the other assaulted the victim. The subject that assaulted the victim is described as approximately 5’5”, heavy set and wearing a dark colored hooded sweatshirt and pants.

Early Monday morning, a man approached a woman from behind as she was walking home from work in the Buckingham area, near Ballston. The man grabbed the victim by the head, pushed her to the ground and stole her purse, according to the crime report.

ROBBERY, 01/14/13, 4100 block of N. 4th Street. At 12:10 am on January 14, a victim was walking home from work when the subject approached her from behind. The subject grabbed the victim by her head with both hands and pushed her to the ground. The subject then took the victim’s purse and fled the scene by foot. The suspect is described as a black male in his late 20’s, approximately 5’8” and 150 lbs. Additionally, the subject has brown eyes and black hair, but no facial hair. The suspect was last seen wearing a red long-sleeve shirt, black pants and a black hat.

The rest of this week’s crime report, after the jump.

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Police Impersonator Tries, Fails to ‘Confiscate’ Watches at Mall

by ARLnow.com | January 16, 2013 at 1:10 pm | 1,451 views | 14 Comments

Surveillance footage of an alleged police impersonator at Pentagon City mall (Photo courtesy Arlington County Police Department)The Arlington County Police Department is asking for the public’s help in identifying an alleged police impersonator.

On Thursday, Jan. 3, a man posing as a police detective entered two stores in the Pentagon City mall, flashed a badge and said he needed to seize a number of wristwatches as “evidence in a case,” according to ACPD. Store employees weren’t fooled, and they asked the man to leave the store. Then, they called the real police.

“The suspect is described as a black male, approximately 5’8” tall and 170 lbs,” according to an ACPD press release. “At the time of the incident he was wearing dark colored jeans, a gray jacket and a red and black plaid hat.”

“If anyone has information on the whereabouts of this individual, please contact Detective James Stone of the Arlington County Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Division at 703.228.4245 or at jstone@arlingtonva.us. To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).”

Photo courtesy Arlington County Police Department

Water Pressure Restored After Repairs to Huge Main

by ARLnow.com | January 16, 2013 at 12:15 pm | 1,594 views | 16 Comments

Water main break on Columbia Pike (file photo)This morning residents in various parts of Arlington reported low or no water pressure at their homes. Now we know why: a huge water main sprung a leak and needed to be repaired.

“A leak was discovered at midnight on a 30-inch main at a location just north of the intersection of Arlington Blvd and Irving,” Arlington County Department of Environmental Services spokeswoman Shannon Whalen McDaniel told ARLnow.com. “County crews worked during the night to repair the leak. During the isolation process of the repair, an area of the main was impacted resulting in low water pressure.”

“Pressure should be restored to normal levels now,” McDaniel said. “There will be additional repair work on the main this week (along Irving), however it should not impact pressure for customers.”

Water pressure problems were reported in neighborhoods like Buckingham, Arlington Forest, Nauck and Fairlington.

File photo

Winter Storm Watch Issued for Region

by ARLnow.com | January 16, 2013 at 11:35 am | 5,112 views | 44 Comments

Arlington and the rest of the Washington region is now under a Winter Storm Watch.

Forecasters at the National Weather Service say up to five inches of snow is possible tomorrow (Thursday). The snow may be at its heaviest during Thursday’s evening rush hour.

WINTER STORM WATCH IN EFFECT FROM THURSDAY MORNING THROUGH LATE THURSDAY NIGHT…

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN BALTIMORE MD/WASHINGTON HAS ISSUED A WINTER STORM WATCH… WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM THURSDAY MORNING THROUGH LATE THURSDAY NIGHT.

* PRECIPITATION TYPE… SNOW… POSSIBLY HEAVY AT TIMES.

* ACCUMULATIONS… IN EXCESS OF 5 INCHES POSSIBLE.

* TIMING… SNOW MAY MIX WITH RAIN AT THE ONSET… ESPECIALLY SOUTH OF WASHINGTON DC THURSDAY MORNING… BEFORE CHANGING TO ALL SNOW LATE THURSDAY MORNING AND AFTERNOON. SNOW WILL END THURSDAY NIGHT. SNOW MAY BE HEAVY AT TIMES DURING THE AFTERNOON AND EVENING.

* TEMPERATURES… IN THE LOWER TO MID 30S.

* WINDS… NORTHWEST 5 TO 10 MPH WITH GUSTS UP TO 20 MPH.

* IMPACTS… ROADS MAY BECOME SNOW COVERED… ESPECIALLY DURING THE EVENING RUSH HOUR.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

A WINTER STORM WATCH MEANS THERE IS A POTENTIAL FOR SIGNIFICANT SNOW ACCUMULATIONS THAT MAY IMPACT TRAVEL. CONTINUE TO MONITOR THE LATEST FORECASTS.

Ray’s Hell Burger Closes Due to Landlord-Tenant Dispute

by ARLnow.com | January 16, 2013 at 10:30 am | 14,126 views | 158 Comments

Ray's Hell Burger has closed Ray's Hell Burger has closed

(Updated at 1:05 p.m.) Ray’s Hell Burger and Ray’s Hell Burger Too (1713 & 1725 Wilson Blvd) has closed in Rosslyn.

The closure is the result of a landlord-tenant dispute between restaurateur Michael Landrum and his landlord, the historic Colonial Village Shopping Center. Court records show that Landrum filed a lawsuit against the shopping center on Nov. 16. Yesterday afternoon, the shopping center locked Landrum and his staff out of both storefronts.

“Landlord has changed the locks,” said signs on the door. “Do not unlock this door under penalty of damages.”

Handwritten signs in the window, posted by Landrum, direct customers across the street to Ray’s to the Third (1650 Wilson Blvd).

“Please visit us at Ray’s to the Third while we take a quick break,” said one of the signs. “Please do not leave your car in this lot if you come across the street… towing is very likely.”

Reached via phone, Landrum declined to elaborate on his complaint against the landlord, citing ongoing litigation. He did, however, vow to continue to serve his famous burgers, which in 2010 drew President Obama and Russian president Dmitry Medvedev to Rosslyn eatery.

“We continue to serve the Original Hell-Burger and all of our famous signature items, at Ray’s To Third, which has been temporarily reformatted to allow for counter service and to go for convenience and extra value, as well as full-service, sit-down table service,” he told ARLnow.com. “And yes, credit cards are accepted.”

“We’re fighting to the last man and cooking to the last burger… nothing’s going to stop us from doing that,” a defiant Landrum added. “This is a very minor blip.”

In an emailed statement, Landrum spoke generally about the relationship between landlords and tenants.

I am not saying this is the case here, but landlords abuse their power and violate the rights of tenants with near-total impunity all the time, because tenants rarely have the means or the ability to defend their rights This is something all of us, or very nearly all of us, have experienced. What often times gets me labeled as a “firebrand” (or worse) is simply my refusal to allow my rights to be violated, my insistence on fair treatment, and my willingness to suffer and challenge the consequences when those things are violated.

Landrum said he’s currently planning an inauguration-related event special at Ray’s to the Third. He’s not currently looking for a new space for Ray’s Hell Burger.

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | January 16, 2013 at 9:05 am | 975 views | 24 Comments

Foggy lights at Washington-Lee High School by Ddimick

No More Checks for State Tax Refunds — Starting this year, Virginia is no longer sending checks for state tax refunds. Instead, the Commonwealth will only issue refunds by direct deposit or by prepaid debit card. The debit cards are issued by a vendor at no cost to the state; the change is expected to save taxpayers about $200,000 in printing and mailing costs. [Virginia Dept. of Taxation]

Jobs, Wages Decline in Arlington — While wages in Arlington remain high, average wages and the number of jobs in Arlington both declined in the second quarter of 2012, according to new federal data. The decline is worrying some local real estate developers. [Sun Gazette]

Ovechkin Collides With Teammate at Kettler — At a practice yesterday morning at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Ballston, Capitals star winger Alex Ovechkin and center Marcus Johansson collided at mid-ice. The collision sent both players to the ground, but they’re both said to be “okay.” [CSN Washington, Washington Post]

Flickr pool photo by Ddimick

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