Loudoun’s laws have been brought in line with the State’s:
Adjusting to meet state rules on firearms, Loudoun’s supervisors voted 7-2 to allow guns in county parks.
County regulations had limited the carrying of firearms in local parks, while state rules allow them. Firing a gun in local parks is still prohibited.
“We’re doing a technical change to two county ordinances to bring us in line with state code,” said John Sandy, a county administrator. The county began looking at changes to its gun laws this spring. At that time, state lawmakers approved new laws that make it easier to file a lawsuit against a locality for violating state firearm rules.
As I’ve mentioned here before, Virginia is what’s known as a “Dillon-rule state.” What that means is that localities only have the power to enact those laws they are explicitly permitted to by state law. If the state law does not specifically say they can create a regulation, then they cannot do so nor can they enforce such a law if it’s explicitly overruled by a state law. That’s the situation Loudoun was in, here. The state passed laws that went into effect July 1st permitting otherwise lawfully permitted gun owners to carry guns into state parks. With that law passed, Loudoun’s ordinance saying they couldn’t was in violation of the Dillon rule. Since one of the other laws passed places the onus for paying court costs onto the local government should they be sued for creating or enforcing a law in violation of state laws, making the proposed change to the ordinances is a defensive maneuver for Loudoun.
Chairman York and Supervisor Delgaudio were the 2 who voted against the changes. Both should be ashamed of themselves and this action calls into question – again – whether they’ve really got Loudoun’s interests in mind. The changes to the laws were to bring Loudoun into compliance with state law and avoid lawsuits that would be won easily by the first people to file. When those suits would be lost, Loudoun would pay for the case. Not smart. York should consider his own commentary on the matter and give it some deeper thought:
“I’d like to understand just what kind of protection we’re offering our citizens,” Chairman Scott York (I-at large) said during an April discussion. “I pick this up, and I think, ‘Well that’s great, fine and dandy, but what happens when somebody pulls out a gun at Franklin Park because we have just done this? What protection have we left residents?'”
The person who pulls a gun in Franklin Park or any other park in Loudoun, unless he’s doing so in self-defense, is by definition engaging in an illegal act. The kind of person who’s likely to do that didn’t care that Loudoun’s ordinance said he couldn’t carry the gun before, which causes me to ask York the question of what kind of protection he was offering our citizens before this change was enacted. Quick answer: none. The only thing being done by restricting law-abiding citizens from carrying their firearms for self-defense was assuring the crooks who were carrying theirs in violation of that restriction an unarmed target populace. Unless York was proposing placing armed police in every park in sufficient numbers as to blanket the area, he was providing no protection to the citizens at all before this. Making this change allows citizens to provide for their own defense.
One more quick item: Delgaudio offered an amendment that would offer an exception to the ordinance prohibiting firing a gun in a local park for shooting in self-defense. For some reason, the amendment was voted down. What message does that send to Loudoun’s citizens? That the Commonwealth’s Attorney in Loudoun might cite you for unlawful discharge of a firearm should you have to shoot in defense of yourself and your family? If the BoS meant to permit such defensive shots, why deny the amendment? Curious.