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.”
Update at 6:30 p.m. — Merrick’s survey has been released.
A group of gun control advocates is calling on Republican state Senate candidate Caren Merrick to make good on her pledge to release the survey that earned her an ‘A-’ rating from the National Rifle Association.
Merrick made the pledge at a candidates forum in Cherrydale last month, after being pressed on gun control issues by two residents. One of the residents was Omar Samaha, whose sister was killed in the 2007 shootings at Virginia Tech. Samaha is part of a group called Virginians for Responsible Gun Laws, which seeks to further restrict gun sales and ownership in Virginia.
“These candidates are all interviewing for a job to represent us,” Samaha said in a statement today. “We believe the candidates owe it to their future constituents to make a full and complete disclosure of where they stand on these issues that will affect our safety.”
Merrick promised on Oct. 19 to release the survey before voters head to the polls on Election Day. Her campaign said this afternoon that copies of the survey will be made available for pickup from the campaign office at 5:00 tonight.
Merrick’s Democratic opponent, Barbara Favola, earned an ‘F’ rating from the NRA because, she said, she declined to fill out the survey the group mails to candidates.
Favola has made gun control a key campaign issue, while Merrick has shrugged off the significance of her NRA rating, noting that Democratic U.S. senators Mark Warner and Jim Webb both have received ‘A’ ratings.
Rodney M. Gunsauley, 61, is charged with Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. He’s currently being held without bond at the Arlington County jail, police say. Gunsauley was previously convicted of a fraud-related charge in
2000 2001, according to public records.
From an ACPD press release:
The Arlington County Police Department, along with the FBI, Washington Field Office, is investigating an incident where several weapons were found hidden near Patrick Henry Drive and I-66 on October 12, 2011.
A search warrant was executed on a residence in the 4000 block of N. 17th Street last night as part of the investigation. Rodney Gunsauley, 61, of Arlington, was charged with Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. He is being held without bond in the Arlington County Detention Facility.
Merrick started out the night with a stump speech that focused on her background as a successful businesswoman and on her desire “streamline regulation and taxation so we can unleash the entrepreneurial spirit.” During the speech Merrick, a McLean resident, tried to strike a bipartisan tone.
“I am not running as a partisan, I’m running to represent every one in this district,” she said. “I am not running on social issues.”
Alas, social issues quickly entered the conversation as questions from the audience focused on more divisive subjects.
“How will you stand up for my daughter’s right to choose?” one man asked.
“There are millions of good people on both sides of this issue,” Merrick replied. “I am pro-life and I am pro-woman.”
Merrick’s Democratic opponent, Arlington County Board member Barbara Favola, then answered and drew loud applause as she declared herself “100 percent pro-choice.” She went on to argue that if Merrick was elected, Republicans in the Virginia legislature would have a better shot at passing laws that restrict abortion rights and the rights of immigrants.
“I am very troubled by this social agenda,” she said of state Republicans.
Later, Merrick was asked about the A- rating she received from the National Rifle Association. The man asking about it was Omar Samaha, a three-year Cherrydale resident whose sister was killed in the 2007 shootings at Virginia Tech. Samaha asked if the candidates supported background checks on private gun sales.
“I’ve been around guns all my life, but in a safe way… a responsible way,” said Merrick, whose father was a Marine. Pressed on whether she thinks background checks should be required for all gun sales, Merrick said yes.
“I do think we should have a background check,” she said.
Favola was again unequivocal, saying she was proud of the ‘F’ she received from the NRA
“I feel very strongly that we have too many gun sales in this country, to people who are not mentally stable and should not be having access to guns,” Favola said. She went on to question why guns are allowed in Virginia’s bars and why localities like Arlington don’t have more power to regulate guns.
Another resident asked Favola and Merrick whether they’d release their answers to the survey the NRA sends to candidates. Favola said she, in fact, did not respond to the survey. Merrick said she would release the survey before the election, and then commented on the question itself.
“I have to say, these questions tonight have not been representative of what I’ve been asked as I’ve knocked on doors around the district,” she said.
“I am running on jobs and the economy,” said Merrick. “We need to diversify our economy. That is the most important issue.”
In her closing remarks, Favola said there’s “a definite choice” between herself and Merrick, adding that Merrick was listed on a Northern Virginia Tea Party website. Merrick, who earlier criticized the “rancor” on Capitol Hill, took the bait. She responded by saying that Favola “knows nothing about” bipartisanship.
“I’m not a member of the Tea Party, I don’t know how my picture got up there,” she said tersely. “Barbara Favola is not looking to solve problems, she’s looking to start a fight.”
FBI agents are using metal detectors, shovels and buckets to try to locate new evidence at the site where gun parts and PVC pipes were found buried in the ground yesterday morning.
An FBI Evidence Response Team truck, an all-terrain vehicle and a tent now line Patrick Henry Drive near the I-66 overpass. Yesterday, VDOT construction contractors found gun parts buried in the ground near a utility box, prompting an investigation by the Arlington County bomb squad and police department. The FBI has since taken over the investigation.
A team from the FBI’s Washington Field Office started searching the muddy grounds, just above the westbound lanes of I-66, around 8:00 this morning. Washington Field Office spokeswoman Lindsay Godwin says she was unaware of any findings at the site so far.
Update on 10/13 — This developing story has been updated.
(Updated at 5:45 p.m.) The FBI is now investigating weapons found buried near I-66 and the Patrick Henry Drive overpass.
FBI agents, a representative from the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force and Arlington County police are still on the scene, more than 8 hours after a VDOT construction contractor found the gun and called the authorities.
A gun, two “weapon parts” and PVC pipes were recovered from the ground, near a utility box, according to FBI Washington Field Office spokeswoman Lindsay Godwin said.
The FBI will likely keep the scene cordoned off tonight and continue searching the site tomorrow, Godwin said. Agents have been seen examining maps and walking through the cordoned off area.
Police Investigate BB Gun Bike-By Shooting — Arlington Police searched for a pair of young men on bikes last night after one of them allegedly shot a woman in the arm with a BB gun near the intersection of N. Pershing Drive and N. Thomas Street, in the Buckingham neighborhood. The suspects made a clean getaway, although one may have been briefly spotted near Ballston. The woman required medical treatment for the wound.
Pentagon Memorial Called ‘Contemplative,’ ‘Noisy’ — Visitors to the Pentagon Memorial are reportedly weirded out by the sound of low-flying planes at the Pentagon Memorial — which was built in honor of the 184 people who died when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon’s west wall on 9/11/01. The Pentagon is along the flight path of Reagan National Airport. [Associated Press]
WaPo Sums Up the 30th District State Senate Race — As Alexandria City Councilman Rob Krupicka, Del. Adam P. Ebbin and Arlington County School Board member Libby Garvey knock on doors in the 30th state Senate district, Virginia Tech professor Craig Brians commented on the many policy similarities in the three-way primary race. “It’s so difficult for voters to figure out what the real difference is between these people,” he said. [Washington Post]
Arlington Wants Its Money Back — Arlington and other Northern Virginia localities are pushing Gov. Bob McDonnell to return some of the $311 million state budget surplus to local governments. “I think the governor’s going to hear pretty clearly from local governments that they think some of this should be restored, it not all of it,” said Arlington County Board Member Mary Hynes. [Washington Examiner]
Flickr pool photo by ddimick
The call came in to police around 11:15 a.m., stating that a young male wearing a black ski mask and holding something that looked like an assault rifle was spotted in the Madison Manor neighborhood. The teen and a companion were heading toward the pedestrian bridge that crosses I-66 near Ohio Street, just east of East Falls Church on the W&OD trail.
Police officers swarmed the area. At least three witnesses reported seeing the same teen, who was accompanied by another young male who was carrying a camera bag and a camera.
A half-hour search of the Madison Manor, Westover and East Falls Church neighborhoods turned up nothing, and eventually the search was called off. During the search extra security measures were put in place at McKinley Elementary School. One tipster reported that some roads were blocked in the area during the search.