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]
(Updated at 11:35 a.m.) Last week, a pro-gun activist cancelled his planned open carry march from Arlington National Cemetery to the District of Columbia. The planned protest has prompted U.S. Park Police to remind the public that D.C. gun laws apply to certain portions of parkland adjacent the the Potomac River.
March organizer Adam Kokesh encouraged supporters to join him on July 4 in publicly carrying loaded rifles during the march, which he dubbed a “non-violent event, unless the government chooses to make it violent.” It was scheduled to begin at Arlington National Cemetery, and then continue over the Memorial Bridge into various parts of the District before returning to Arlington.
As widely reported, D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier promised to enforce the District’s strict stringent laws, which ban the carrying of loaded weapons. Lanier suggested police might even meet the marchers at the District line. Last week organizers cancelled the march.
Yesterday, U.S. Park Police sent out a reminder that certain parcels of land along the George Washington Memorial Parkway that appear to be in Virginia — such as Theodore Roosevelt Island and Columbia Island, which includes LBJ Memorial Grove, Lady Bird Johnson Park and the Columbia Island marina — are actually in the District. Therefore, D.C. gun laws apply there.
As seen on the USPP-provided map (above), Columbia Island extends from just below the Roosevelt Bridge to the Humpback Bridge. From the press release:
The proposed “Open Carry March on Washington” that was being organized by Adam Kokesh to occur on July 4, 2013, has been cancelled by him.
The United States Park Police… want[s] to make sure the public is aware that portions of the George Washington Memorial Parkway (GWMP) is located in the District of Columbia, and that their firearm laws applies there.
Theodore Roosevelt and Columbia Islands are located in the District of Columbia. While most of the GWMP is located in Virginia, both the Theodore Roosevelt Island and Columbia Island is actually located in the District of Columbia. A good rule of thumb for Columbia Island, which includes the LBJ Memorial Grove, Lady Bird Johnson Park and Columbia Island marina, is that it surrounded by the Potomac River to the east and Boundary Channel to the west. The following are various access points that lead to Theodore Roosevelt and Columbia Islands in the District of Columbia:
- The foot bridge leading on to Theodore Roosevelt Island from the parking lot off of the GWMP southbound.
- Northbound GWMP and the Mt. Vernon Trail in the area of Humpback Bridge to Theodore Roosevelt Island.
- Ramp to Rt. 50 from northbound GWMP to Columbia Island.
- Memorial Avenue to Columbia Island.
- Southbound GWMP south of Theodore Roosevelt Island to Humpback Bridge.
- Boundary Channel Dr. @ Rt. 27 to Columbia Island.
- LBJ Memorial Grove footbridge (leading from the Pentagon parking lot) to Columbia Island.
District of Columbia firearms laws apply on Theodore Roosevelt and Columbia Islands. Before entering Theodore Roosevelt and Columbia Islands, people need to know that they are located in the District of Columbia. This is important because since February 22, 2010, 16 USC 1a-7b generally provides that people can legally possess firearms if they are in compliance with the law of the State in which the park area is located.
It remains the responsibility of visitors to understand and comply with all applicable state, local, and federal firearms laws. For example, D.C. Code 22-4504(a-1) provides that “[e]xcept as otherwise permitted by law, no person shall carry within the District of Columbia a rifle or shotgun.” While there are a number of public sources to locate the firearms laws, the GWMP’s website at www.nps.gov/gwmp/parkmgmt/firearms.htm has hyperlinks to the firearm laws of Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.
Parkland located in Arlington, meanwhile, is subject to the following Virginia gun laws.
Thousands of Armed Protesters Expected on July 4 — Pro-gun activists are planning an open carry protest march from Arlington National Cemetery, across the Memorial Bridge and into D.C. The protest, which is being organized on Facebook, is to take place on July 4. Participants are encouraged to march with loaded rifles slung across their backs. More than 2,000 have indicated their intention to participate in the “non-violent event.” [Huffington Post]
DJO Softball Finishes 24-1 — The elite Bishop O’Connell softball team has finished the regular season with a 24-1 record after consecutive victories against Yorktown and Paul VI. The nationally-ranked Knights will now advance to the playoffs. [Sun Gazette]
Too-Tall Parking Meters Being Replaced — A manufacturer of Arlington’s multi-space parking meters is replacing 16 meters that don’t meet current Americans with Disabilities Act requirements because they’re too tall. The replacements are being done at no cost to the county. [Arlington Mercury]
New Bus Shelters Vandalized in Arlandria — There has been a wave of vandalism directed toward new glass-paned bus shelters in the Arlandria section of Alexandria, adjacent to Arlington. [The Arlandrian]
Flickr pool photo by Maryva2
Concealed Carry Permits Spike in Arlington — The number of applications for concealed-carry permits in Arlington has quadrupled in the past 8 years, and continued to spike. Last year the Circuit Court received 1,042 applications from whose who want to carry concealed weapons. This year the office is expecting nearly 1,600. [Sun Gazette]
Whipple Pens Pro-Streetcar Op-Ed — In an op-ed, former state Senator Mary Margaret Whipple compares the heated debate over the planned Columbia Pike and Crystal City streetcar systems to the debate over the construction of Metrorail through Arlington in the 1970s. “A small but vocal faction of our community claimed that the proposed Orange, Blue and Yellow lines were too expensive and risky and argued that we should just use buses instead,” Whipple writes. “After much deliberation, Arlington invested in rail.” [Washington Post]
New Gym for George Mason? — George Mason University’s Arlington campus currently lacks a fitness center for students. A plan to build a new gym, put in place after a student petition in 2011, has not moved forward because it was determined that the project would go over budget. The university is currently exploring options for either constructing a new fitness center or partnering with a nearby office building to use its gym. [Connect2Mason]
DCA Fight Attendants Protest Knife Decision — Flight attendants have been handing out flyers to passengers at Reagan National Airport, encouraging them to sign an online petition against a recent TSA decision that will allow small knives to be carried on to planes. [WAMU]
Proposals are in the works for constructing a permanent firearms training facility for the Arlington County Police Department and Sheriff’s Office. The preferred plan involves upgrading and expanding a facility on the Dulles International Airport property, which Arlington police currently shared with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) police.
Arlington does not have its own facility for such training, and had been sharing Alexandria’s until 2008. At that time, it was determined that Alexandria’s use had grown to such a point that it could no longer accommodate the more than 350 ACPD members and more than 100 Sheriff’s Office members as well. Arlington has been using the MWAA police shooting range since then.
The Dulles facility is said to need upgrades and an expansion. Right now, it houses a 15 point outdoor range, but under the new plan would expand to include two 25 point firing ranges and a 300 yard rifle deck. The facility currently has no shelter from weather, no running water or fixed restrooms and no classroom space.
An alternative to upgrading the Dulles range would be to find enough land on which to build a training facility within the Arlington County limits. That, however, does not appear to be a viable option, according to Deputy County Manager Mark Schwartz.
“We don’t have the land to do it. Having a firing range within the confines of the county would present some difficulties,” said Schwartz. “Try to find 21 acres in Arlington and just think of the cost.”
Arlington County lists the project in its 2013-2022 Capital Improvement Plan. The proposed price tag of $12 million, $7 million of which would be provided by Arlington County, may seem daunting to some, such as former Arlington County Board candidate Audrey Clement. She spoke at the County Board Public Budget Hearing last Tuesday (March 26), likening the firing range to other county funded projects she considers wasteful, such as Artisphere, the aquatics center at Long Bridge Park and the Columbia Pike streetcar.
“The project’s justification says that the firing range is needed because the one currently in use at Dulles lacks running water, fixed restroom facilities and covered firing points,” she said. “Does providing those facilities actually cost seven million plus dollars? If so, the NRA has a state-of-the-art shooting range just off the I-66, Route 50 exit that offers training for law enforcement personnel. If this range works for the NRA, and they are highly successful, why won’t it work for Arlington police?”
Partnering with the NRA is not feasible, according to Schwartz.
“That comment, I could spend an hour telling you why her suggestion was impractical,” Schwartz said. ”I really think the perception would be that this is a ‘nice to have thing.’ I don’t think the county manager or the police chief or sheriffs think this is a ‘nice to have thing.’ This is a very basic part of their training and skills that they need to have.”
ACPD Deputy Chief Jay Farr added that the current cost is a good deal when taking into consideration that MWAA is footing $5 million of the total bill, in addition to supplying the land, which Schwartz estimates to be worth at least $5 million.
The incident happened just before noon on the 2100 block of N. Scott Street, in the North Highlands neighborhood. A resident called police, reporting a man dressed in camouflage in the woods of Dawson Terrace Park. The man was pointing a shotgun at something, the caller said.
Officers located the man, ordered him to drop the weapon and then took him into custody. Upon further questioning, officers determined that the man was an Art Institute student videotaping himself for a school project, according to Arlington County Police Department spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
The man was informed that possessing a firearm is prohibited in county parks, then released without charges.
“He was not aware that he was in the wrong,” Sternbeck said. “No charges were filed. He just packed up his truck and left.”
(Updated at 5:05 p.m.) What started with polite applause ended with jeers and shouts, as Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) hosted a panel discussion on gun violence at Washington-Lee High School Monday night.
Hundreds turned out at the school’s auditorium for the discussion, with gun supporters — wearing “Guns Save Lives” stickers — outnumbering gun control advocates about 3:2, based on the volume of completing applause points.
Among the panelists on stage with Moran were:
- David Chapman, a retired ATF Special Agent and advisor to Mayors Against Illegal Guns
- Josh Horwitz, Executive Director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence
- Earl Cook, Alexandria Police Chief
- Jonathan Lowy, of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence
- Karen Marangi, of Mayors Against Illegal Guns
While expressing general support for the Second Amendment right to own firearms, Moran and the panelists made the case for additional gun control measures, including universal background checks, an renewed assault weapons ban, magazine capacity limits and mandated reporting of stolen guns. Possible changes to the treatment of those with mental illness were also discussed.
“We hope those of you in the room will really help us to move this, so we can make our communities safer,” Marangi said of some of the gun control legislation that has been proposed in Congress.
Many in the audience, however, were there to voice another opinion. After a generally polite reception for a opening statements by the panelists, the question and answer session brought a different tone.
A majority of speakers spoke strongly in support of gun rights and against additional gun laws, and some expressed fear that the government’s ultimate goal in gun legislation is to gradually ban gun ownership. Moran and the panel’s response to the audience statements and questions often drew boos and shouts.
“Congressman, I know you’re pro-choice, but why aren’t you pro-choice when it comes to self-defense for women?” said one speaker to loud applause. “Why don’t you guys listen to the young rape victims in Colorado when they said that if they had a gun it would have prevented their attacker.”
Other gun supporters called for the elimination of “gun-free zones,” particularly around schools.
“As you can see, there are a lot of people here who are legitimate, law-abiding gun owners,” said a man who asked fellow gun owners to stand, before voicing support for allowing teachers to carry guns. “We would be more than happy to defend innocent lives should a psycho… come into an area to commit an act of violence.”
“I would be opposed to teachers carrying guns in the classroom, and I would not want my children in a classroom where their teacher was carrying a gun,” Moran said in response, to applause from gun control advocates in the audience.
“I know this community well enough to know that the people standing up in this auditorium are not representative of the majority of the residents, ” he continued, to more applause as well as some jeers.
Moran and the panelists drew the most jeers when they brought up “assault weapons.”
“What does that even mean?” some audience members shouted, about the term. Some speakers — those who stood in line to speak — made the case that the term assault weapon is often used to refer to a gun that might look menacing but isn’t significantly different, functionality-wise, from a standard semiautomatic handgun.
“I don’t agree that there’s a need for individuals to have military-style assault weapons,” Moran retorted. “I don’t believe that we need guns that can hold in excess of ten bullets.”
Adding to the urgency of passing gun control laws, Moran said, is a projection that gun deaths will exceed traffic fatalities by 2015. That expected milestone is partially due to rising gun deaths, but mostly due to advances in car safety that started in the 1970s — safety improvements, he said, that came about after being mandated by law.
Speaking to reporters after the forum, Moran said he expected a negative response from the crowd.
The forum, titled “Preventing Another Newtown: A Conversation on Gun Violence in America,” will feature a panel of experts on gun policy, public safety and mental health issues.
The following guests are slated to attend: Omar Samaha with the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, retired ATF Special Agent David Chipman, Josh Horwitz with the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, City of Alexandria Police Chief Earl Cook, Jonathan Lowy of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and former counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee Karen Marangi.
“From Virginia Tech to Newtown, gun violence has become far too common. Each day, 32 Americans are killed with a firearm. We must improve our laws to prevent the continuation of this horrific trend,” Moran said. “This forum is an opportunity to bring together a diverse panel of experts who will share their thoughts on a comprehensive plan to reduce gun violence. Northern Virginians concerned over gun-related violence are invited to join the conversation.”
Members of the public are welcome to attend the forum, which will be held from 7:00-9:00 p.m. on March 11 in the Washington-Lee High School (1301 N. Stafford Street) auditorium.
Samaha, an Arlington resident, has become an outspoken advocate for gun control since his youngest sister, Reema, was killed in the 2007 Virginia Tech mass shooting. He currently serves as a spokesman for the group Fix Gun Checks.
In January, Moran re-introduced a bill, the ‘NRA Members’ Gun Safety Act, which would require background checks for every gun purchase, among other measures that advocates say are supported by most National Rifle Association members. In a statement, Moran lauded Samaha’s gun violence prevention advocacy.
“Omar and his family suffered a tragic loss at the hands of a mentally ill individual with access to firearms,” Moran said. “I am impressed with his dedication to making our country safer and pleased Omar will be joining me at the State of the Union.”
“Since Omar lost his sister in 2007, our nation has experienced over 20 mass shootings with five or more fatalities,” Moran continued. “Following the Newtown shooting, President Obama took decisive action and demonstrated determined leadership by putting forward a comprehensive plan to reduce gun violence. Now, Congress must act on this proposal.”
President Obama’s State of the Union address will start tonight (Tuesday) at 9:00 p.m. More about Samaha’s background, after the jump.