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Arlington County bans firearms on government owned properties

The ban includes county government buildings, parks, and special events.

The Arlington County Board voted Saturday to ban firearms in county government buildings, parks, and at designated special events.

The newly passed ordinance makes make it illegal to possess, carry or transport firearms and ammunition into any county building, park, recreation center, or community center that is owned or used by the Arlington County government, according to a county release.

The vote was unanimous and came after dozens of public commenters, many of which were in opposition to the ordinance.

The ordinance applies to holders of concealed carry permits as well as other firearm permit holders.

Violations of the ordinance will be treated as a Class 1 misdemeanor.

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“Arlington sought and supported the common-sense gun laws passed by the General Assembly earlier this year,” Board Chair Libby Garvey said. “After hearing from many people, both for and against this measure, the Board has adopted gun restrictions that we believe reflect the values of our community, and that will enhance the safety of all those who enter County buildings, or who visit County parks, recreation, and community centers or participate in special events permitted by the County.”

The ban will not be enforced until proper signage is posted, which a county official said will be in 30 days.

The official added the ban will only be enforced in areas where there is clear signage posted that guns are prohibited.

The board allocated $110,000 to cover the cost of signage.

"They're wasting the money, there's so many other things they can do with money like that,” Virginia Citizens Defense League President Philip Van Cleave said. “These people are totally law abiding, many of them are carrying because they have threats. Didn't matter to Arlington, it didn't matter at all.”

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There are exceptions to the ordinance

  • Military personnel who are acting within the scope of their official duties
  • Sworn or retired law enforcement officers
  • Private security personnel hired by the County when in County-owned buildings or on County-owned properties
  • Security personnel at permitted special events engaged by private parties conducting the event and approved by the County through the special event permit process
  • Re-enactors using inoperative firearms
  • Activities of a Senior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program operated at a public or private institution of higher education or any intercollegiate athletics program

The passage of firearm restrictions on the local level comes after sweeping gun legislation passed this year on the state level.

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