Join Club

Arlington County Board Considering Banning Firearms From Public Property

The County Board last night unanimously approved consideration of a new ordinance that would effectively ban carrying firearms on county-owned property.

The move is the first step towards making the ordinance part of county policy, though it will still need to undergo a public hearing and a vote at the Board’s next meeting.

According to a staff report:

The proposed ordinance would restrict the possession, carrying or transportation of any firearms on specified locality property. Buildings and other property will be posted to notify the public of the restrictions. The proposed ordinance provides for a Class 1 Misdemeanor penalty for violations.

The ordinance would ban carrying or transporting firearms in buildings owned, leased or used by the County as well as in parks, recreational or community facilities owned or used by the County. Staff clarified that in buildings only partially used by the County, the restriction would be in effect for parts of the building the county government was operating out of.

“The legislation also authorized these prohibitions in public streets where there is a permitted event, whether or not the event actually received its permit,” the staff report said. “We believe this added authorization allows the County to enforce this prohibition on public streets during an event operating under a Special Event Permit.”

Those not affected by the ordinance would include:

  • Military personnel acting within the scope of their official duties
  • Sworn or retired law enforcement officers
  • Private security personnel hired by the County
  • Historical reenactors and those possessing inoperative, unloaded firearms when such persons are participating in or traveling to/from special events that involve the display or demonstration of these firearms
  • Senior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps programs and intercollegiate sports where the sport includes the use of a firearm

The move comes after the General Assembly approved legislation allowing localities to adopt certain prohibitions on firearms. The first advertisement for the proposed ordinance was at a County Board meeting Wednesday night, with a full public hearing scheduled for Sept. 12.

The legislation is nearly identical to similar legislation passed recently in Alexandria and is shaping up to face similar opposition. County Manager Mark Schwartz vowed to craft the ordinance to be in-line with policies in neighboring jurisdictions.

During the public comment yesterday, there were roughly 60 speakers, with County Board Chair Libby Garvey noting that an unusually high number of speakers who were not Arlington residents.

The public comment started with a statement from Del. Patrick Hope (D) in favor of the change, but the following comments from members of the public were almost uniformly opposed to the measure. Among the arguments that guns could protect owners from being attacked were arguments that the new legislation could be used to target Black Arlingtonians and women who are carrying weapons to defend themselves.

Jamie Saulsbury, who identified herself as a local mother and a person of color, argued that Black Americans are disproportionately impacted by such laws.

“People of color are disproportionately impacted when [there is] a new crime,” Saulsbury said. “The penalty is the most severe penalty the county can assign. People of color consistently receive harsher sentences. Is the Board really okay with putting legal citizens in jail for a year for something that is legal today?”

Saulsbury argued that the new ordinance threatens women who would want to carry weapons in places like parks where they might feel a need to defend themselves.

Another point of contention was County Attorney Stephen MacIsaac’s claim that the new ordinance was drafted in part as a response to the shooting last year in Virginia Beach where 12 people were killed.

“A gun ban would not stop a mass murderer like the Virginia Beach shooter,” said William Barratt, an Arlington resident. “A threat of misdemeanor is not enough to deter criminal acts.

Shawn Poulin, owner of the Nova Armory gun store in Lyon Park, said he invited the County Board to take a concealed carry class, so see the first-hand the kind of training involved.

“There’s been an increase of 400% training for people who want concealed carry permits,” Poulin said. “It’s a different scenario when you’re trying to restrict firearms in possession of legal people… The whole Board invited to take classes with us and learn what it means to be a concealed carry permit holder. Let us know, and you’ll learn what it takes.”

(Nova Armory’s opening in 2016 prompted an intense community debate at the time. The store has since enjoyed brisk sales.)

The County Board voted unanimously to approve the request to advertise the ordinance for a public hearing in September.

“The basic issue for us to discuss is whether we believe we’re a safer community with more people carrying guns on public property or a less safe community for that,” said County Board member Katie Cristol. “I appreciate the many opinions proffered today, particularly those who shared opinions from the non-stereotypical gun owners concerned about the impacts on minorities, women such as myself, and Jewish people such as myself who have informed the perspective they shared about the need to be armed.”

File photo

Recent Stories

Good Friday evening, Arlington. Today we published articles that were read a total of 5266 times… so far. 📈 Top stories The following are the most-read articles for today —…

A water rescue operation is underway along Four Mile Run after reports of a drunk man falling down an embankment. The incident happened shortly before 4 p.m. behind the Virginia…

With the Yellow Line bridge and tunnel work complete, Metro is upping service on the line. Starting Sunday, Yellow Line trains will arrive every eight minutes all day, the transit…

In honor of the one-month anniversary of this article, we give you a new Mike Mount cartoon. In case you don’t get the reference, it also riffs on some of…

Join MoCA Arlington Summer Camps at Marymount University and learn the fundamentals of handbuilding, throwing on a wheel, glazing, and much more. In this two-week course, students will explore hand building techniques, wheel throwing, and strengthen ideas that exemplify individual artist expression guided by professional working artists. Students of all skill levels are welcome!

Visit MoCA Arlington’s Website here and the registration page to secure your space today!

Submit your own Announcement here.

Please join us on Saturday, June 3, from 2 to 4 pm for the Glencarlyn Home Tour in Arlington’s historic Glencarlyn neighborhood.  Among the featured homes will be a sparkling new home by A&N Builders at 5604-4th St. South. The inviting front porch opens to a light-filled space featuring high ceiling, wood floors, gas fireplace,  Pella windows, Shrock cabinets, Quartz countertop, and JennAir appliances.  Doors from the family room open to a large covered porch with a few steps to the level, landscaped rear yard.  Upstairs, there are four bedrooms, three bathrooms, laundry room, and linen storage.  The big lower level has a rec room, gym space, and a fifth bedroom and bathroom plus even more storage.  After leaving the home, stroll to the Ball-Sellers home, the oldest residence in Arlington, the community gardens at the library, Carlin Hall, and the 94 acre Glencarlyn Park. A lovely way to while away a late spring afternoon.

Submit your own Announcement here.

Homebuying 101: Steps to Getting Pre-Approved

Are you ready to jump into homeownership or started considering it but don’t know where to start? Financial preparation is key when thinking about purchasing your first home and the first step to getting pre-approved.

Join ACFCU’s mortgage loan officers

4th of July Celebration & Fireworks

Treat yourself this Independence Day with a world-class, private 4th of July extravaganza at the Military Women’s Memorial – a premier National Capital Region site.

Great food, fun, and the best views of Washington DC’s spectacular fireworks display. Relax, enjoy,


Subscribe to our mailing list