With the signing of several gun control measures in Virginia this year, the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors directed staff at Tuesday's business meeting to begin investigating how the legislation will or could impact the county.
Several pieces of legislation from Richmond were signed into law by the governor, including SB 35 and HB 421, which allow localities to regulate firearms in public buildings, parks, recreation centers, and during permitted events.
The board voted 7-1-1 -- with Blue Ridge Supervisor Tony Buffington (R) opposed -- to the request made by gun control advocate and Algonkian Supervisor Juli Briskman (D). Supervisor Caleb Kershner (R-Catoctin) was absent for the vote.
“I just wanted to make sure that we follow up on these things as early as possible,” Briskman told the Times-Mirror.
Other bills staff will investigate include HB 674 and SB 240, which establish an Extreme Risk Protective Order, creating a legal mechanism for law enforcement to temporarily separate a person from their firearms if they are determined to represent a danger to themselves or others.
Another measure, SB 71 as enacted with the governor's recommendation, adds public, private or religious preschools and licensed child day care centers to the list of schools where possessing a firearm on school property or on a school bus is prohibited.
The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors flipped to a Democratic majority after last fall's elections. Gun control was one of the issues Democratic candidates ran on in the November election.
Moms Demand Action, which calls itself a “grassroots movement of Americans fighting for public safety measures that can protect people from gun violence,” has been active locally in seeking more gun control measures.
Ami Miller, a spokeswoman for Loudoun Moms Demand Action, said she’s pleased with Briskman's efforts.
"We're glad to see the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors take the crisis of gun violence seriously," Miller said. "After seeing the governor sign several gun safety policies, it's encouraging to see our local officials keep up the momentum and implement these new laws to keep our community safe."
Meanwhile, S. Chris Anders, director for the Virginia Constitutional Conservatives, said the board should “reject” these efforts.
“I'm hoping the board will reject this infringement on the constitutionally protected rights of free citizens,” Anders said to the Times-Mirror. “Law abiding citizens have the right to defend themselves and they have the right to due process and in these times only totalitarian politicians would ever consider imposing these type schemes on their constituents.”
Anders said the board is opening the county to “a lot of litigation” if any of the new measures are adopted locally. He said any adoption would create “gun-free zones,” and throughout the country most shootings occur in those “gun-free zone” areas.
Supervisor Buffington questioned whether asking county staff to provide information on legislation requires any action by the board.
“Frankly, I just see this kind of as a waste of time that the whole board is going to spend a lot of extra time on this item, and all it's going to be is an information item,” Buffington said.
He said if he had these questions he would just send an email to county staff and ask for the answers.
Ashburn Supervisor Mike Turner (D) responded by saying if all nine supervisors requested that information from staff, there may be nine separate interpretations of “this very complex” legislation.
“I think it's absolutely essential that we all be on the same sheet of music for these upcoming discussions, and I think this is an excellent way to establish a common baseline of understanding," Turner said.
No timetable was provided as to when the board should expect a report.