GOP Offers Support to Gun Store Owner — A Change.org petition against a planned gun store in Cherrydale has reached more than 1,900 signatures. The store’s landlord now says he’s trying to figure out ways to legally break the lease. Countering the backlash, the Arlington Falls Church Young Republicans have launched a petition in support of the store and its owner, 28-year-old Marine Corps veteran James Gates. “We can’t remain silent while Arlington liberals push their radical anti-gun agenda,” the petition says. [AFCYR]
Hynes Fires Back at Reevesland Sale Critics — Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes is firing back at criticism of the Board’s 3-2 decision to sell the historic Reeves farmhouse to a private owner. Critics charge that the sale was hastily added to the Board agenda the day before the vote and that citizen groups should have had more time to propose alternatives. Hynes said the house would have needed $2.5 million in work to be brought up to code for public use and noted that interested groups have had 5 years to suggest better alternatives for using the house. [InsideNova]
Arlington’s Outdoor School in Fauquier County — Every year thousands of Arlington Public Schools visit the APS-operated Outdoor Lab in Fauquier County, experiencing nature and wildlife first hand. The property was purchased with private funds for school use and is beloved by students. However, some worry that a proposal to increase summer use of the 225 acre site may overtax the lab and its ecology. [Falls Church News-Press]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
Nova Firearms is planning to open in the former Curves storefront in Cherrydale, the company confirmed Tuesday night.
In a statement, the McLean-based company said it will open its new Arlington location this summer. The store will sell firearms to police departments and civilians, and will offer gun safety classes.
Rumors have been flying around neighborhood listservs about the store, which is currently under construction. Some residents have said that such a store raises concerns about safety and even local property values.
The full statement from Nova Firearms is below.
McLean-based Nova Firearms have announced the opening of its new store in Arlington, Virginia scheduled for Summer 2015.
The grand opening of the Arlington location will coincide with the first anniversary of owner James “JB” Gates’ purchase of Nova Firearms. Nova first opened its doors in Falls Church in 2012 under previous ownership, then moved to its current location in McLean where it has enjoyed a warm reception.
“We want to thank the communities of Falls Church and McLean who welcomed Nova Firearms with open arms, and we believe Arlington will be an equally good location for our small, family-run business,” Gates said.
Nova supplies police departments as well as civilians. “Because of our proximity to the nation’s capital, the Pentagon, and CIA Headquarters, our customers understand security on a professional and personal level,” Gates explained.
When Gates isn’t behind the counter serving customers at Nova’s Mclean store, the US Marine Corps veteran provides personal protection and IT security services to a wide clientele, in and around the Metropolitan area.
The customers of Nova Firearms are equally diverse. According to Gates, their clients include many first time gun owners, longtime sportsmen, and the occasional celebrity. “You might be surprised by the number of well-known government leaders who did their Christmas shopping at Nova Firearms,” he remarked.
Gates is a proud sponsor of local charities, including the conservation efforts of local Ducks Unlimited chapters and programs supporting veterans and their families. He plans to offer expanded firearms safety training to the community at the new Arlington location of Nova Firearms.
Update on 5/20/15 — Nova Firearms has confirmed that it is indeed opening a store in Cherrydale.
The Maywood and Cherrydale neighborhood email listservs are abuzz today with talk of a gun store coming to the neighborhood.
The rumors surround the former Curves storefront at 2105 N. Pollard Street, in a small strip mall along Lee Highway. In a widely-circulated email, a neighbor says she’s spoken with the shopping center’s owner and he confirmed that a gun store will open there.
The property owner, Kostas Kapasouris, told ARLnow.com last week that an “expensive sporting goods” store has leased the space. He would not say who owns the store was or whether it would sell guns.
Listserv users have said they believe that the store may be linked with NOVA Firearms, a gun store in McLean. A man who answered the phone this afternoon said the owner of NOVA Firearms would call an ARLnow.com reporter back — but then quickly hung up before asking for a phone number.
Owners and employees of other stores in the shopping center said they heard the same rumors of a gun store or a high-end sporting goods store selling guns, but said they had not heard anything definitive from Kapasouris. Some expressed concerns about a gun store moving in, particularly given that there are several schools in the area.
Residents on the listservs expressed similar concerns.
“Wow! Was hoping for something a bit more family friendly,” one said. “I’m sure ‘walkable to gun shop’ will do wonders for our real estate values.”
“I am adamantly opposed to this!” another said. “If others feel the same way, can we petition the County to prevent this business in our neighborhood?”
It’s unlikely the county government has any legal standing to prevent a gun store that’s otherwise following Virginia law from opening. At least one resident privately told ARLnow.com that he’s not sure why there’s such an uproar.
“Note that the pawnshop on Lee Highway and Kirkwood (which used to go by National Pawnbrokers) also sells firearms, so I’m not sure what the big deal is,” he said.
Interior construction could be heard inside the store last week and workers could be seen coming and going. County officials told ARLnow.com that construction permits were not necessary because the work was minor. Inspectors responded to the location and found no code violations.
As of Tuesday afternoon, opaque plastic sheets covered the store’s windows and no other activity could be seen.
All gun control bills proposed by Democrats that went before the Virginia Senate Courts of Justice Committee yesterday were defeated. Among the legislation struck down was a bill from Sen. Adam Ebbin (D) that would have made it illegal for parents to allow a child 4 years old or younger to use a firearm.
Another bill, from Sen. Barbara Favola (D), would have prevented those convicted of stalking or sexual battery from carrying a firearm.
More than a dozen bills that would restrict everything from who can purchase guns, which convicted criminals can carry guns and how many guns one person can buy were all struck down by the committee. The bills’ defeat was not a surprise considering Republicans control the state Senate and the House of Delegates, and the GOP has long opposed any legislation viewed as restricting Second Amendment rights.
“Handing a child under the age of 4 a gun, the adult is no longer in control of the situation. Simply requiring adult supervision, even with careful instruction, cannot guarantee the safety of anyone nearby,” Del. Alfonso Lopez, who proposed similar legislation to Ebbin’s bill in the House of Delegates, said in a speech before the General Assembly. “If it’s illegal to hand a gun to a person with the mental capabilities of a 4 year-old, why would you hand a gun to an actual 4 year-old?”
Ebbin’s major legislation was an omnibus gun bill that restricted the use of and ability to carry firearms when drinking, at restaurants, and leaving loaded firearms around minors among a litany of other proposed regulations. According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the large bill “took longer to present than it did to debate and vote down.”
Before the committee met, Ebbin spoke with ARLnow.com about gun control measures, and he was optimistic that some reforms could pass.
“I’m not sure how much consensus we’ll reach, but gun violence is going to be a big discussion we’re having,” Ebbin said. “I have a thick skin and a positive attitude. Too many people are dying to not press forward on it.”
Favola’s bill to prevent stalkers and those convicted of sexual battery from possessing firearms was originally reported out of committee — meaning it would go before the state senate — and the committee’s Republican chairman, Sen. Thomas Norment, was heard voting “aye” for Favola’s bill. Hours later, on the legislature’s website, the bill was reported defeated, leading to outcry from senate Democrats.
“This smacks of back-room politics,” Favola told ARLnow.com. The bill will be reconsidered by the committee tomorrow afternoon, according to Favola’s office.
In contrast to the legislation that was shot down, a bill advanced out of committee that would allow people with concealed handgun permits to carry guns on school property when there are no school activities happening. It’s unclear if that, or other pro-gun rights laws, will be vetoed by Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D).
State Loan for Potomac Yard Metro — Virginia is providing a $50 million low-interest loan to Alexandria for construction of the future Potomac Yard Metro station. Previously, the Commonwealth offered Arlington up to $65 million for the now-cancelled Columbia Pike streetcar project. [Washington Post]
Hope Wants to Link Child Support, Gun Permits — Del. Patrick Hope (D-Arlington) has proposed legislation that would revoke concealed handgun permits for Virginia residents who fall more than 90 days or $5,000 behind on child support payments. [InsideNova]
Eden Center Damage Estimate — Damage to the Eden Center, caused by an explosion on Jan. 14, is estimated to be more than $1 million. The Falls Church fire marshal determined the explosion to be accidental, caused by “improper use of propane and oxygen.”
Arlington Offers Cash Bikeshare Memberships — To serve those without bank accounts, Arlington County is now offering county residents cash-only Capital Bikeshare memberships. Normally, memberships require a credit card, so that Bikeshare can charge $1,000 if the bike goes missing. [Arlington County, Streetsblog]
No News Coverage Today — In observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, ARLnow.com will only be covering breaking news today. Our regular news coverage will resume tomorrow. See our list of county government closures for the holiday.
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
County Can’t Stop In-Home Gun Sales — Concern was raised during the public comment period of Saturday’s Arlington County Board meeting about a resident of Fairlington who’s selling weapons out of his home. The Board responded to the complaint about the weapons sales, saying it can’t stop the business from operating as long as it has all the proper permits. The resident has been trying to find a retail location to open a gun shop. [InsideNova]
Cyclists Encourage Cycling Etiquette — A sidewalk stencil appeared in Rosslyn earlier this year, encouraging those on the Custis Trail to “make us bicyclists look good.” One local blogger has four tips for conscientious cycling. [Ode Street Tribune]
Prescription Drug Take-Back Day in Arlington — The Arlington County Police Department will participate in National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on Saturday, Sept. 27. Police personnel will be on hand at three Arlington fire stations to accept “potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs,” no questions asked. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Joseph Gruber
An Arlington, Va., church has hung 176 T-shirts on its front lawn, with each shirt representing someone shot to death in the D.C. area last year.
First Presbyterian Church, at the intersection of N. Carlin Springs Road and Vermont Street, steps from Ballston Common Mall, displayed the shirts on Saturday. Each garment shows the name of a victim, the victim’s age and the date in 2013 that he or she died.
Eighty-two white shirts represent people killed in D.C. Victims in Northern Virginia are honored with 31 yellow shirts. And 63 blue shirts were hung for people in Maryland. The display was coordinated by Heeding God’s Call, a faith-based nonprofit with a mission to end gun violence.
“Each [victim] is a human being, a child of God,” a flier the organization is distributing at the memorial reads. “Each one deserves to be remembered. Each passing deserves to be noted and mourned.”
Heeding God’s Call is trying to grow support for its efforts to combat “straw purchasing” done when someone legally purchases guns to re-sell them, sometimes to people who cannot legally purchase a gun because they have a criminal record, a mental illness or are too young. The group says the cemetery-like display is designed to be a reminder that straw purchasing is how many guns “end up illegally in the hands of those who use them to destroy countless lives.”
“Unlike a cemetery, this memorial isn’t behind trees and gates where no one can see it,” the flier reads. “It’s on public view where folks driving, biking or walking past not only can see it but can be reminded of the violence that happens day in and day out in the Greater Washington area and, yes, throughout the country.”
The memorial will be on display through Sept. 27.
Hat tip to @ipadreporter
A store selling civilian and military-grade weaponry and tactical gear is planning to move into the ground floor of a condominium building in the Nauck neighborhood.
SpecDive Tactical, which currently operates out of an apartment building on S. Abingdon Street in Fairlington, hopes to move into the ground floor of 2249 S. Shirlington Road, next door to Pizzoli Pizza. When contacted, SpecDive Tactical’s owner Gerald Rapp confirmed an agreement was in place to move into the space, but otherwise declined to comment on the record.
SpecDive’s initial building permit application was rejected, according to Arlington Community Planning, Housing and Development spokeswoman Helen Duong, “because there were no parking spaces available for the new retail.” CPHD has asked for a new plan with parking provided, Duong said.
The shop has been in business since 2012, according to the owner profile section of SpecDive’s Yelp page. It has a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Federal Firearm License, according to ATF records. On the Yelp page, Rapp says he was in the Marine Corps from 1985 to 1994 and a U.S. Navy deep sea diver after that.
“SpecDive, LLC., a veteran owned small business, was created in direct response to the need for the Military and federal law enforcement to partner effectively with private industries to meet the current and future needs of a citizen-centric government and world leader,” the Yelp page reads.
The shop was the subject of a petition from Nauck residents back in March, who were hoping to prevent it from moving in.
“We, the members of the Nauck Civic Association Executive Committee are very concerned about locating this business in our community,” an email announcing the petition stated. “Although, we are attempting to solicit businesses to locate within our community, we are not convinced that this type of business fits the description of what the residents seek.”
Reached for comment last week, Nauck Civic Association President Alfred Taylor said nothing has changed regarding the NCA’s position on the gun shop. He noted that Rapp is expected to attend the September NCA meeting.
“The position of the Association has not changed in that they would rather not have a facility of that sort at that location,” Taylor wrote in an email, “but realize it is a by-right retail business in accordance with all zoning regulations.”
Rapp has already met with representatives from the county and Arlington Public Schools and members of the community, including Drew Model School Parent Teacher Association President Evan Thomas. Thomas said the PTA has no formal position on SpecDive’s planned move, and may or may not take one when its membership reconvenes after the school year begins.
“The general tone of the meeting was pretty cordial,” Thomas told ARLnow.com today. “What Jerry spent most of his time discussing was their security protocols, what they do, their process for selling firearms, answered questions in regards to how a person could go about obtaining a firearm, what types of firearms they could purchase and the difference between the requirements for a shotgun or rifle or pistol. Those are the items you can buy off the street, assuming you can pass the background check they do.”
Thomas, speaking as a parent and resident of the area, said Rapp assuaged some of his trepidation about a gun dealer moving into the neighborhood.
“I have two kids who attend Drew… so you’re always concerned about the safety of the area where there school is,” Thomas said. “At the end of the meeting I felt as comfortable as you can with a business like that. He’s very cognizant of the perils, the need for security and the implications of what could happen to him in terms of losing his business, losing his license, facing potential jail time if he slips up. I felt comfortable with him as a business owner.”
An allegedly gun-toting convicted felon was arrested by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents after a brief car chase and crash in Pentagon City over the weekend.
The ATF says its agents were following D.C. resident Othaniel Gaither, a convicted felon, after he illegally bought two guns and ammunition in Northern Virginia on Sunday. When Gaither took a detour through Pentagon City en route back to D.C., the agents tried to pull him over in the area of 15th Street and S. Fern Street.
“At this point, Gaither attempted to evade arrest and rammed into one of the ATF vehicles,” ATF Washington Field Division spokesman Thomas A. Faison told ARLnow.com. “This evasion attempt proved unsuccessful.”
“[Gaither] admitted to being a convicted felon who was transporting the firearms and ammunition from Virginia to D.C.,” Faison said. “He also stated that an associate of his was shot several weeks ago in D.C. and the firearms and ammunition were for retaliation against the individuals responsible for the shooting incident.”
ATF agents recovered an AK-47 rifle, a .38 caliber machine pistol and a flare gun that was modified to fire 12-gauge shotgun shells, according to Faison. Ammunition was also found.
Gaither remains in custody on federal charges.
Photos courtesy @WestwoodKing
Nauck residents have started circulating a petition to the Arlington County Board protesting a potential gun store in their neighborhood.
The Nauck Civic Association sent out an email this week saying it heard from “reliable sources” that a gun shop was in lease negotiations with the owners of the Shirlington Heights Condominiums (2249 S. Shirlington Road).
“We, the members of the Nauck Civic Association Executive Committee are very concerned about locating this business in our community,” the email states. “Although, we are attempting to solicit businesses to locate within our community, we are not convinced that this type of business fits the description of what the residents seek.”
The petition has 246 signatures as of 4:00 p.m. today with a stated goal of 1,000. The discussion on the petition page has only three comments, one of which suggests a coffee shop in the space, one, from Cara Schatz saying: “A gun shop is not needed, not welcome, and not in line with the priorities of our neighborhood. The residents of 22204 would prefer to see a business that can thrive and provide benefits to those of us who live here. Guns don’t build communities — guns tear them apart.”
One commenter showed that not all local residents are on board with the opposition to the gun store.
“I’m a resident, homeowner, taxpayer, business owner, churchgoer, philanthropist, and community member in South Arlington,” writes Sean Steele, who said his business has been open since 2005. “I’m also a gun owner. And a hunter. And a concealed carry permit holder. All here in the neighborhood. The last time I checked guns were legal here in Arlington, and in Virginia. And, indeed, in the entire country.”
“Until and unless we get past the indefensible, knee-jerk, non-fact-based assertions… we’ll never improve our collective lot,” he continued. “This is a shameful, hysterical petition. It’s sad to see it gain such unthinking support from otherwise intelligent South Arlingtonians.”
Photo via Nauck Civic Association
The incident happened around 10:45 this past Friday night. According to police, the tow truck driver — who was working for a private company, not Arlington County — was in the process of towing a vehicle from the 2900 block of S. Glebe Road for a parking permit violation when the vehicle’s owner approached him.
“The subject pulled a pistol on him forcing the victim to release the car,” according to the police report. “The subject fled the scene and was located a short time later by police.”
Arlington County Police Department spokesman Dustin Sternbeck said Woodbridge resident William Eugene Jones Jr., 36, was spotted by officers close to the original crime scene after a lookout was broadcast.
Jones Jr. was arrested and charged with robbery, use of a firearm in committing a felony, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, brandishing and possession of a concealed weapon. He was held without bond.
Peter’s Take is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.
Last Friday, the Washington Post revealed that the National Rifle Association has committed to spend half a million dollars in negative advertising against Terry McAuliffe in the Virginia Governor’s race.
This NRA announcement prompted McAuliffe to say that he is “a strong supporter of the Second Amendment. I’m a hunter. I own guns. … There are certain individuals who just should not own a gun.” Cuccinelli responded that no new laws are needed because “Virginia has excelled at ‘screening out people with mental illness from gun purchases’ and ‘prosecuting people who attempt to buy guns illegally’.”
Whatever it might have stood for decades ago, the NRA today is simply a trade association of gun manufacturers who want to sell as many guns as possible. The NRA and other extreme opponents of reasonable gun laws are fond of the slogan, “guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” This NRA slogan is worthless in helping us decide whether new laws are needed to reduce gun violence.
We need to scrap the NRA’s slogan, and use our own common sense: a combination of guns and people kill people.
If we could do away with the worthless slogans and extreme partisanship surrounding this issue, it would be easier for folks to sit down together and develop reasonable solutions. We need to keep an open mind to solutions including, but not limited to, new laws that address the role of both people and guns in violent gun deaths.
Advocates of stricter gun laws also ought to be supporting more:
- mental health screening,
- mental health treatment, and
- effective sharing of mental health data
Gun rights advocates also ought to be supporting reasonable:
- restrictions on sales of weapons designed for modern warfare,
- restrictions on bulk sales of massive amounts of ammunition, and
- universal background checks prior to gun sales
Aaron Alexis, the Navy Yard shooter, worked at a series of consulting assignments around the DC Metro area, including assignments in Arlington. Aaron Alexis purchased the gun he used in Lorton, Va..
We all have a stake in what should be done to prevent tragedies like those at the Navy Yard, Sandy Hook or Virginia Tech.
The next tragedy could easily happen in Arlington.
Peter Rousselot is a former member of the Central Committee of the Democratic Party of Virginia and former chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee.
Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) says the mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday was “only the latest in a long line” of horrific events.
The shooting spree claimed the lives of 12 people and gunman Aaron Alexis, a former Navy reservist. Moran, an outspoken supporter of gun control legislation, spoke on the House floor today and said that Congress must act to pass stronger laws to minimize gun violence.
“While it’s too early to know what might have prevented this week’s mass shooting, we do know what will ensure it happens again: doing nothing,” he said. Moran’s office supplied the following transcript of the speech.
On Monday, just over one mile from where I stand, once again our nation experienced a horrific incidence of mass gun violence. Our deepest sympathies go out to the friends and families who lost loved ones at Washington Navy Yard.
As this chart shows, this mass shooting is only the latest in a line that includes Columbine, Virginia Tech, Tucson, Aurora, and Newtown. But even these horrendous mass killings do not fully reflect our nation’s problem with gun violence.
Each year, approximately 100,000 people in America are shot by a gun, 30,000 die from a gun-related injury, and 10,000 are murdered by a firearm. By 2015, gun-related deaths will surpass auto-related deaths for the first time in decades. And while it’s too early to know what might have prevented this week’s mass shooting, we do know what will ensure it happens again: doing nothing.”
Our nation’s gun violence epidemic will continue so long as we resign ourselves to the belief that indiscriminant violence is the price of freedom. The Chief Medical Officer at MedStar Hospital expressed the sentiments of many when she pleaded, “There’s something evil in our society that we as Americans have to work to try and eradicate.” If we don’t do all we can to minimize gun violence through stronger laws and improved services, all we’ll ever have to offer our constituents are more condolences.
Prayer Vigil for Navy Yard Victims — St. George’s Episcopal Church in Virginia Square will be holding a 40 minute prayer vigil and candle lighting for victims of the Navy Yard mass shooting tonight. [ARLnow Events]
Va. Is Test State for Gun Data Sharing — Virginia is a test state for a nationally-linked system that will share information on guns used in crimes across law enforcement agencies. The system is intended to skirt federal law that prevents the sharing of federal gun trace information. As of Monday, twenty-five Virginia law enforcement agencies had signed on to the program. The Arlington County Police Department was not on that list. [Richmond Times-Dispatch]
Dedication for New Wakefield HS — A dedication ceremony will be held for the new Wakefield High School on Sunday. Students, staff and community members are invited to the ceremony, which starts at 1:30 p.m. It will be followed by tours of the school, an opening ceremony for Wakefield’s new aquatics center, and an aquatics center open house. [Arlington Public Schools]
Gun Fact Check — New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg took aim at Virginia for being one of the top suppliers of guns used to commit crimes in his city. He called out the state for having weak gun laws. Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell’s office fought back, releasing a statement saying the state has some of the toughest gun laws in the country and its rates of crimes such as homicide and robbery are lower than in New York City. The New York Daily News checked out the claim, however, and found that Virginia has 3.9 killings for every 100,000 people. That’s compared to the state of New York — not just New York City — with 3.5 murders per 100,000 people. [New York Daily News]
Rabbits at Library — The library’s regular Paws to Read program is on hiatus in August. Instead of using dogs this month, one of the librarians suggested bringing in rabbits to join kids while they read. The librarian noted that the Muslim families she knows aren’t able to participate in the Paws to Read program because Islam discourages touching dogs. Three rabbits — Mocha, Copper and Apache — already took turns cuddling up with visitors at the Columbia Pike Branch Library. [Arlington Public Library]
Rabbit Population on the Rise — Arlington is one of the D.C. metro areas experiencing a rabbit boom. The county’s chief naturalist confirmed that there’s been a spike in most of Arlington’s neighborhoods. Because they typically don’t carry diseases or bother humans, the rabbit boom isn’t causing alarm. In fact, because the animals are prey for a number of other creatures, it’s believed their numbers will naturally come under control. [Washington Post]
Bezos to Buy Washington Post — Jeff Bezos, the owner of Amazon.com, has agreed to buy the Washington Post for $250 million in cash. The sale is expected to be completed within 60 days. Employees at the Post were reportedly shocked by the deal. [Poynter Institute]