The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted against a measure to evaluate the regulation of excessive sounds from firearms.
Supervisors Juli Briskman (D-Algonkian), Matt Letourneau (R-Dulles) and Mike Turner (D-Ashburn) backed the effort spearheaded by Leesburg Supervisor Kristen Umstattd (D), but it failed 4-5. Opposing were Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D-At Large) and Vice Chairman Koran Saines (D-Sterling) and supervisors Sylvia Glass (D-Broad Run), Caleb Kershner (R-Catoctin) and Tony Buffington (R-Blue Ridge).
Umstattd said a number of complaints to law enforcement prompted her to bring the proposal forward. Complaints came primarily from residents in the rural and transition policy areas of the county, though some came from more developed suburban areas.
“I don’t want to injure anybody’s Second Amendment rights, but I do want to try to protect my constituents from this excessive noise that we don’t regulate at all — in any way whatsoever — and that disturbs them terribly,” Umstattd said. “They don’t feel safe, they don’t feel safe sending their kids out to play. So that’s what I’m trying to accomplish here.”
As part of Umstattd’s request, staff would have been directed to consider if the sound of a discharge is audible inside a dwelling with all windows and doors closed. Other considerations include the proximity of the dwelling and/or residential subdivision to the areas to where the discharge of firearms can lawfully occur, information relative to the incorporated towns’ noise standards and firearm regulations, and whether there is any conflict with local, state or federal laws.
“It’s not like you’re shooting bazookas or loud explosives,” Kershner said. “Yes, guns make a little bit of noise, but so do backfires and so does farm machinery and other things. So, it is kind of the nature of the Rural Policy Area and some of the rural heritage that we enjoy here in Loudoun County and one of the things we love about Loudoun County, which is a mixture.”
Buffington added, “I think this could be dealt with through existing laws by calling 911 or the non-emergency number and having the sheriff come out. I can’t support this.”
County Attorney Leo Rogers said Loudoun has different noise regulations for the two halves of the county. He said shooting is greatly restricted east of Route 659, and in the west it’s less restricted.