After delaying the vote for an ordinance that will prohibit firearms on city property to rework its wording, the Charlottesville City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved it.
The ordinance restricts firearms in city owned buildings, in city parks and community centers and on public streets or rights of way used by or adjacent to permitted events.
Councilors have had the legislation in their list of priorities for some time and finally set to work on creating it once a new state law took effect in July that granted localities authority to ban firearms from public properties.
Previously, Councilor Lloyd Snook, an attorney, met with the city’s commonwealth attorney, Joe Platania, to ensure the legal writing was sound.
“I just wanted to make sure that if Mr. Platania — if anybody is going to have to enforce this, it would be he as the chief prosecutor — to make sure that he was comfortable with the language and that we didn’t end up foisting language on him that would be unenforceable or unintelligible or make no sense when it actually got to court,” Snook said.
The new legislation the General Assembly passed allows local governments to ban the carrying of guns in government buildings, public parks, recreation centers and at permitted events happening on city property. The city of Richmond passed a similar ordinance hours before the Charlottesville City Council, and the city of Newport News was among localities that passed an ordinance in July. The Norfolk City Council is considering prohibitions.
Snook cited the events of the summer of Aug. 11 and 12, 2017, as personal inspiration for the ordinance.
He noted “coming down Market Street at 10:30 in the morning and seeing groups of people in camouflage and body armor carrying AR-15-style rifles, the self-styled militias — and knowing that there was no authority under state law.”
Lack of local regulation, he said, factored into this ordinance.
“There was no authority to regulate what they were doing,” Snook said.