Hope was recently appointed to Gov. Bob McDonnell’s Task Force on School and Campus Safety, which was created in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. The task force has been charged with making recommendations regarding improvements to school safety practices at K-12 schools and at colleges and universities. Such improvements may include expanded use of school resource officers or security guards, new state or local programs or policies, and improvements to Virginia’s mental health system.
From 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, interested parents, students and residents are invited to discuss school safety with Del. Hope at the Wakefield High School auditorium (4901 S. Chesterfield Road). Hope will give an update about the work of the task force and listen to concerns and recommendations from the audience.
Hope said the discussion will be wide-ranging, and may incorporate topics beyond the scope of the task force. For instance, the task force was not charged with making recommendation regarding firearm policies, but Hope said guns may still be discussed.
“I don’t see how you can talk about safety in classrooms without talking about gun control… It’s a little like talking about trying to cure lung cancer, but you can’t talk about smoking,” Hope told ARLnow.com. “If you really want to solve the problem, you can’t leave gun control aside.”
Hope said he will likely hold at least one more town hall meeting before the task force concludes its work this summer. The task force’s relatively short time frame, he said, is the reason the controversial topic of gun control was not included in its agenda.
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.
A jogger was robbed by the men around 12:30 p.m. on the trail near the Glebe Road bridge over I-66, according to ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. The victim struggled and was struck in the head — possibly with a pistol.
The men took a GPS watch and sunglasses and fled down the trail, Sternbeck said. A short time later, another trail user told police that one of the men pointed a silver handgun in his direction when he passed by.
Police notified Arlington Public Schools of the robbery and three nearby schools — Washington-Lee High School, Arlington Traditional School and Glebe Elementary — were placed in a secured state. Based on that initial notification from ACPD, an email alert sent to parents erroneously reported a shooting.
This afternoon, the Arlington County Police notified us of a robbery of a jogger that occurred on a nearby bike path. The report we received said that the incident also involved a shooting. As a precaution, we have secured the school building and all students are being kept inside.
Three men were apprehended outside the Ballston Metro station around 1:30 p.m., Sternbeck said. A handgun was recovered. The men are now being questioned by police.
“It was great police work… getting these individuals off the street,” Sternbeck said.
The robbery victim is currently being evaluated for injuries at Virginia Hospital Center.
Two H-B Woodlawn students have created a petition calling on Congress to pass stronger gun control laws in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Connecticut.
The online petition has gathered 133 signatures already and resulted in 336 letters and emails being sent to Congress. Seventh graders Nicole and Daniel created the children-driven petition with the hopes that it will garner student support beyond Arlington.
“We are representing the children of the United States who do not want to wake up every morning with a thought that someone close to us, or even ourselves, might die that day,” they said in the petition. “We do not want to see our friends or loved ones die in schools or movie theaters or malls any more.”
“Please help us stop the killings and the murders and the massacres by enacting legislation that will ban assault weapons and require a special license, a strict application process with a background investigation and a mental check for every person wanting to acquire a gun,” the petition said.
This morning, the National Rifle Association held a press conference in which the organization blamed the media, the entertainment industry and video games for a culture of violence, and called for armed security guards in every American school.
“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” said NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre. ”If we truly cherish our kids more than our money… we must give them the greatest protection possible. And that protection is only available with properly-armed good guys.”
Nicole and Daniel’s father, Arlington resident Michael Getter, said that arming more citizens is not the answer.
“The time has come to take meaningful steps in preventing mass executions that have become practically a commonplace in our county,” Getter said. “There seems to be very little evidence that ease of access and proliferation of dangerous weaponry among US population is making this county any safer for its citizens.”
Photo via Arlington Public Schools
In the wake of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Congressman Jim Moran is proposing a bill called the “NRA Members’ Gun Safety Act.”
The bill will “implement five commonsense gun safety reforms that polling shows are supported by at least 63 percent of NRA members,” according to a press release (below, after the jump).
The National Rifle Association is holding a “major news conference” tomorrow (Friday). In its first public statement since the Sandy Hook massacre, the organization has said that it’s prepared to offer “meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again.” Details about the NRA’s proposals have yet to be released.
Moran’s bill would require background checks for every gun purchase and for gun shop employees, prohibit individuals on the terrorist watch list from purchasing guns, require gun owners to report to police when their guns are lost or stolen, and establish a set of minimum standards for concealed carry permits.
On Wednesday, President Obama called on Congress to act on gun control legislation. He appointed Vice President Joe Biden to lead an effort to draft policies intended to reduce gun violence.
The male victim told police that a man pointed a gun at him and demanded his wallet around 7:00 Wednesday night. After taking the wallet, the perpetrator fled the scene with an accomplice who was serving as a lookout, according to police.
The park, at 1600 S. Hayes Street, is one block from the Pentagon City mall and Metro station.
From today’s daily crime report:
ROBBERY, 12/19/12, 1600 block of S. Hayes Street. At 7:00 pm on December 19, a male victim was approached by a male subject in Highlands Park. The subject allegedly pulled out a black handgun and pointed it at the victim, demanding that the victim give him his wallet. The subject took the victim’s wallet and fled the scene with another subject that had been the lookout. The first suspect is described as a black male in his 20’s, about 6’0”, wearing a dark colored hooded sweatshirt, dark jeans, and white sneakers. The second suspect was described as a black male in his 30’s, long braided hair, and wearing a dark colored puffy jacket, jeans and tan Timberland boots.
Gun Confiscated at DCA — TSA agents confiscated a 9mm handgun from a 59-year-old Fairfax man who tried to bring it with him on his trip to Dallas. The TSA said the man, who was charged with a misdemeanor weapons offense, was “just a forgetful passenger” and not a terrorist. [Washington Post]
WAMU Offers Voter Guide — WAMU has built an interactive voter guide for D.C. area elections. Among the races where voters can compare and contrast positions are the Virginia Eighth District congressional race, the Arlington County Board race, and the non-competitive Arlington School Board race.
W-L Students Collect “Cleats for Bare Feets” — Three brothers, all students at Washington-Lee High School, have been collecting hundreds of pairs of old athletic cleats for shipment and donation to disadvantaged individuals in countries like India, Mozambique, Haiti, Macedonia and Nigeria. [Arlington Mercury]
Rep. Jim Moran (D) called for the renewal of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban and the closing of the “Gun Show Loophole” in an interview Monday afternoon on MSNBC.
Moran spoke with Martin Bashir guest-host Thomas Roberts about gun control laws in the wake of last week’s movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colo., in which 12 were killed and dozens were injured.
Moran referred to “more than 60 multiple shootings” nationwide after the Jan. 8, 2011 shooting of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
“We shrug our shoulders and come up with all kinds of pious, remorseful rhetoric. We ought to do something,” Moran said. “And we haven’t done anything about this. To some extent, we are complicit in these crimes if we don’t stand up and speak out.”
Moran also said that lawmakers have been “politically castrated” by the National Rifle Association.
(Updated at 3:10 p.m.) Police chiefs and sheriffs from a dozen Northern Virginia law enforcement agencies gathered for a press conference today to warn about the dangers of “look-alike or replica guns used by children and young adults.”
Arlington County Police Chief M. Douglas Scott, who participated in the news conference, said replica weapons — including realistic-looking Airsoft and BB guns — are being used by kids for play and by criminals for robberies. In all cases where replica guns are used in public, Chief Scott said, they put the person holding the weapon at great personal danger.
“The message today was really to parents and kids about the dangers of using this kind of weapon in a public place,” Scott said. ”People see the weapons and they believe them to be real, and they call police.”
“Police officers have to make a split second-decision,” Scott continued. “If someone turns and brandishes a weapon… it could be tragic for everybody and we want to avoid that if at all possible.”
Scott said those brandishing replica guns in public might also be confronted by armed citizens, especially in Northern Virginia where concealed weapons permits are fairly common.
“They may be confronted [by armed citizens] in a way they did not expect,” Scott said. “There’s great danger in that… even though they did not intend to harm anybody.”
Scott said replica weapons, which are cheaper than real guns, are also increasingly being used by criminals for robberies.
“We’ve had a number of robberies this year alone where later we determined… the weapon used by the robber looks like a replica weapon,” Scott said. According to the department, there have been at least four confirmed incidents involving a BB or Airsoft gun in Arlington so far this year.
Arlington County Police say they’re planning to launch a public education campaign about replica weapons. The campaign is expected to include outreach to students by school resource officers, as well as outreach to local civic associations.
This article has been updated to remove an erroneous reference to legal differences between the use of a real gun and a fake gun in the commission of a crime.
The incident started around 1:30 a.m. when the intoxicated man entered the luxury hotel, asked for a room, and became incensed at the high rates, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. The man also asked whether he could be served alcohol, but was denied, Sternbeck said.
The man then left the hotel and allegedly brandished two handguns when confronted by a security guard. Police were called and the man was taken into custody by officers with their guns drawn. Police recovered two guns, each with rounds in the magazine and the safeties off, according to Sternbeck. Police say one of the guns, a .45-caliber pistol, was cocked and loaded.
From this week’s Arlington County crime report:
BRANDISHING A FIREARM, 05/09/12, 1200 block of S. Hayes Street. On May 9 at 1:30 am, a subject under the influence of alcohol and upset with hotel rates, brandished two handguns towards a security guard. Andrew Dziuk, 29, of Centreville, VA, was arrested and charged with brandishing a firearm, reckless handling of a firearm and drunk in public.
Weekday rates for the hotel posted online range from $339.00 to $669.00 per night.
The rest of the crime report, after the jump.
Moran Marks Anniversary of Va. Tech Massacre — Rep. Jim Moran (D) marked the fifth anniversary of the shooting massacre at Virginia Tech yesterday by calling on Congress to improve gun control laws. “When there are nearly enough guns in the U.S. for every man, woman and child, firearms will find their way into the wrong hands,” Moran said. “Criminals, terrorists and the dangerously mentally ill have no business owning deadly weapons.” A student shot and killed 32 people on the Virginia Tech campus on April 16, 2007.
Concern About Chicken Doo-Doo — Some residents are concerned that, if enacted, a proposal to allow small-scale backyard hen raising in Arlington would result in extra water pollution. A George Mason University professor says chicken waste from backyard hens in Arlington would ultimately make it into the already environmentally-sensitive Chesapeake Bay. [WAMU]
Hearing About School Board Appointment — A public hearing will be held tonight to discuss the appointment of an interim School Board member to replace now-County Board member Libby Garvey. Sixteen residents have declared themselves interested in the position. [Sun Gazette]
Man Dies After Heart Attack at Pentagon Station — Added at 9:15 a.m. — A 51-year-old Alexandria man died yesterday afternoon after suffering a heart attack at the Pentagon Metro station. Passengers attempted to revive the man, a witness told ARLnow.com, but he was later pronounced dead at a local hospital. [Washington Post]
Wienermobile Spotted in Arlington — The Oscar Mayer Wienermobile was spotted yesterday afternoon at the entrance to Bluemont Park (above). No word yet on what it was doing there.
Vornado Hurt By BRAC — Vornado Realty Trust, one of the primary commercial landlords in the Crystal City area, is hurting due to the Base Realignment and Closure Act. The company is currently “staring down the barrel of nearly 2.4 million square feet of vacant space” as the U.S. military continues to move offices and departments from leased buildings to forts and other owned properties.. [Washington Business Journal]
One Handgun a Month Law Repealed — Yesterday Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) made it official and signed a bill that repeals the state’s 19-year-old “One Handgun a Month” law. In response, Rep. Jim Moran (D) said in a statement: “Today Virginia retreated from sensible gun control policy… The repeal of this law will return Virginia to being the nation’s number one gun-running state, putting more guns into the hands of criminals and traffickers.”
Hotels Gouging For Inauguration? — Booking a room in Arlington for Inauguration Day 2013 is going to cost you. Hotels have already jacked up prices in anticipation of the crush of visitors to the D.C. area for the inauguration. TBD.com compiled a list of notable examples, and found $479 per night rooms at the Rosslyn Hyatt, $399 per night rooms at the Ballston Comfort Inn, and $299 per night rooms at the Lee Highway EconoLodge.
The charge stems from an incident in October when a number of guns were found buried in the ground near Patrick Henry Drive and I-66. Investigators from the FBI and the Arlington County Police Department used forensic evidence to link the guns to 61-year-old Cherrydale resident and convicted felon Rodney M. Gunsauley.
In all, prosecutors say they recovered at least 35 tubes containing 14 guns and more than 20,000 rounds of ammunition.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office issued the following press release tonight.
Rodney Melvin Gunsauley, 61, a resident of Arlington, Va., was sentenced today to 40 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release and a $6,000 fine for possessing firearms after being convicted of a felony.
Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, made the announcement after sentencing by United States District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee.
According to the statement of facts and court records, on Oct. 12, 2011, construction workers discovered two weapons caches located at the 1000 block of Patrick Henry Drive, Arlington, Virginia. FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) agents and Arlington County Police and Fire responded to the location and recovered one short barrel AR-15, thirteen AR-15 magazines, 385 armor piercing rounds, two handguns – a Para-Ordinance .45 and Delta Elite Semi-Automatic 10 mm – additional clips for the .45, a lock pick set and coded letter with references to additional locations. Forensic evidence led law enforcement to Gunsauley, whose house was searched pursuant to a federal search warrant on October 20, 2011. Inside his apartment, law enforcement found 12 M16 firing pins, materials to make weapons caches, a shovel and a lock pick set. Gunsauley was taken into custody the same day.
Gunsauley pled guilty on Dec. 8, 2011, to felon in possession of firearms and ammunition. With Gunsauley’s cooperation, law enforcement reported in court today that 33 additional weapons tubes had been recovered in Arlington Va., containing six additional AR15 rifles, five additional handguns to include a 9mm, a 40 caliber and another 45 caliber and 20,000 additional rounds of ammunition.
This case was investigated by FBI Washington Field Office and the Arlington County Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Ronald L. Walutes Jr. prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States, with assistance from the Arlington County Commonwealth Attorney’s Office.
General Assembly Votes to Lift Gun Purchase Limit — The Virginia General Assembly has voted to lift the state’s limit of one gun purchase per month. The limit, which has been in place since 1993, was intended to reduce gun trafficking and gun-related crimes. Sen. Janet Howell (D), who represents part of Arlington, said lifting the limit could turn Virginia into a “gun-runners’ paradise.” [Washington Post]
Arlington’s Triple-AAA Rating Reaffirmed — Arlington has once again received a top AAA rating from each of the three major bond rating agencies. “With these ratings, the County will be able to continue making critical capital investments at the lowest possible cost to residents and businesses,” said County Manager Barbara Donnellan. [Arlington County]
Library Launches New Web Site — Arlington’s library system revealed a newly-designed web site over the weekend. The new library site includes “fresher-looking pages… richer graphics… catalog browsing that might remind you of strolling the shelves… a friendlier study room reservation system… [and] a customized events calendar with more options to find what you want.” [Arlington Public Library]
New Leadership for BRAVO — The nonprofit Buyers and Renters Arlington Voice (BRAVO) has appointed a new Executive Director. Dennis Jaffe, a longtime community activist, says he’s looking forward to advocating for the rights and needs of tenants in Arlington County. “I have a personal mission… and that is to increase tenants’ connectedness to each other and to the Arlington community,” Jaffe said in a statement. Tenants make up about 57 percent of the Arlington County population, according to BRAVO.
A man accused of forcing prostitutes to perform sex acts at gunpoint in Crystal City is facing a lengthy jail sentence after pleading guilty or being found guilty on an assortment of charges.
Last month, a pair of Arlington County Circuit Court juries found McKinley C. Joyner guilty on two counts of forcible sodomy, two counts of using a firearm in the commission of a felony, and one count of abduction with the intent to defile. He also entered an Alford plea on charges of rape, forcible sodomy and abduction.
Prosecutors say Joyner victimized three female escorts in two separate incidents between 5:00 and 8:00 a.m. on Nov. 4, 2010. The women, who Joyner found via the web site Backpage.com, were each forced to engage in sexual activity at gunpoint at Joyner’s Crystal City apartment, according to prosecutors.
Joyner is facing up to 51 years in prison as a result of the convictions and the plea. His final sentencing dates are set for late next month.
Joyner’s legal troubles don’t end with there, however. He’s also facing a charge of possession with intent to distribute for the drug N-Benzylpiperazine, also known as BZP or Legal X. A trial on that charge and an accompanying firearms charge is scheduled for March 27.
Prior to these alleged crimes, Joyner had a relatively clean record. Prosecutors say they were only aware of one past conviction — on a 1999 charge for possession of marijuana in Montgomery County, Md.
Even though the Joyner’s victims were prostitutes, prosecutors say that doesn’t diminish the serious nature of the crimes.
“These are difficult cases for a lot of reasons,” Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Lisa Bergman told ARLnow.com. “When you’re dealing with victims that are prostitutes, it obviously was our contention that they were worthy of the protection our system. And the jury came back and echoed that sentiment.”