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Albemarle County holds off on implementing gun ban on county property

Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 10:34 PM EDT
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ALBEMARLE Co., Va. (WVIR) - After a public hearing, the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors decided to push off a vote on a potential ban on firearms on county-owned properties, including buildings and parks.

Just an hour before the virtual public hearing began, and supervisors were briefed on the measure, dozens of gun rights supporters gathered and spoke in front of the Albemarle County Office Building on McIntire Road, which is the usual non-Zoom meeting spot for supervisors.

The message from those rallying was loud and clear.

“To support it is just an infringement on law-abiding citizens. Do you think criminals are going to pay any attention to this? It’s just insane,” said Tom Templeton, a demonstrator.

The group, many of whom were from the county, adamantly opposed the measure.

Albemarle County Police Chief Ron Lantz was asked if this measure would help.

“Every situation’s different,” he said. “Obviously when officers are responding to the scene of an incident and there’s guns on scene it heightens the response, so they’re on a heightened sense of alert.”

Supervisor Bea LaPisto Kirtley expressed one of her concerns.

“Let’s say, for lack of a better term, the good guys start shooting what they think is the bad guy,” she said. “But then I may think I don’t know if that’s a good guy or a bad guy, and I may shoot them, or the police may shoot them.”

But Steve Harvey, who organized the rally, said outside the county office building that the law is “the most extreme gun control that we can (have) by state law”.

“That’s what this is,” he said. “It’s as extreme as they can make it.”

The county’s top prosecutor, Jim Hingeley, pushed back on that during public comment.

“It’s not gun control because it’s not applicable to citizens in any location other than government property,” he said.

In the end, there was tons of debate, which forced pushing the vote to another day. One issue was whether to include those who can conceal carry. Another was whether people have the right to have a firearm secured and locked in their vehicle -- even in the parking lot of a county park or building.

Here are some of the comments on those issues from a few supervisors.

Donna Price: “I tend to look at this in two different categories: open-carry versus concealed-carry. And I think we should explicitly ban open-carry on county property and in county buildings.”

LaPisto Kirtley: “In my opinion, I think they can just leave in the car or leave it locked in the glove compartment.”

Ned Gallaway: “I would be fine with the concealed carry exemption getting put into the ordinance, and I would also be fine with the locking-and-securing in the car in a parking lot... For me, I’m not drawing the line between a park parking lot or a building parking lot.

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