Virginia York County Board Of Supervisors To Address Firearms Ordinance Tuesday
Covington VA – -(Ammoland.com)- If you’ve ever seen a Sheriff on the news standing up for gun owners and said to yourself, “Gee, I wish that guy was MY sheriff.”
Well, for those of you in York County, you do have one of those Sheriffs.
Sheriff Diggs has weighed in on the various discharge ordinances being considered by York County.
His response: get rid of all of York County’s firearms discharge ordinances and let state law prevail!
Other counties, such as Prince George, have done so successfully and this is something we need to push county by county.
The Board of Supervisors is going to address this issue on Tuesday, June 15th, in the east room of York Hall starting at 6 PM.
IMPORTANT: There will be a citizen comment period from 6 PM to 7 PM and the ordinance will be addressed by the BoS after 7 PM.
*** LET’S PACK THE MEETING! ***
Not only is letting state law rule important for York County, it is an important step for the rest of the Commonwealth.
Here is the agenda:
I will be there with GSL stickers around 5:30 to 5:45 PM.
Thanks to Don Streater and the Lafayette Gun Club for keeping an eye on this.
Here is the Sheriff’s full statement to the BoS (this will be useful to anyone wanting to get their local BoS to repeal their discharge ordinances):
It is my opinion as Sheriff that the County should repeal its current ordinance, Section 16-7, concerning the discharge of firearms.
In response to the question of why should the county’s firearms discharge ordinance be repealed, I will try to answer your question from several different perspectives.
First, any restriction on the use of a firearm is a potential infringement of the 2nd Amendment and should be considered very carefully. One method of having a neighborhood placed on the prohibited list is for a neighborhood association to petition the Board to be added. Let me speak from what I have heard from others and from personal experience. These associations do not always speak for everyone in the neighborhood, and sometimes not even for the majority. It may be reasonable for associations to make rules for parking, trash, or some other rule that governs day to day living, but giving the power to any association to infringe upon the 2nd Amendment Right (or any other Constitutional Right) of any single person should be unlawful itself. I do not believe that you would allow them to infringe upon any of the other Rights guaranteed by the Constitution.
I would assume that the purpose of the existing and proposed county ordinance is to ensure the safety of our citizens from dangerous use of a firearm. There are several state laws that already cover that desire and some that have a penalty greater than the one in the county ordinance.
The typical 911 call for “shots fired” is from a caller stating that he has heard something that sounded like gunshots. Never do we get a caller advising that a neighbor is shooting a gun in the backyard. Most calls are far shots heard coming from a wooded area or from a distance that no one is sure where it originated. In the last 3 1/2 years, we have made 6 arrests that started as a “shots fired” call.
3 were charged with reckless handling of a firearm (state law) 1 was charged with brandishing a firearm (state law) 1 was charged with carrying a concealed weapon (state law) 1 was charge with Drunk in Public (no weapon found)
For more than ten years, no one has been charged under the County ordinance. Everyone who has discharged a firearm illegally and that has been apprehended has been charged under state law. A law that has not been used in more than ten years and is a duplication of state law is a law that is not needed. Virginia is a “Dillon Rule” state. One of the purposes of the Dillon Rule is to provide consistent application of laws throughout the state to prevent confusion among its citizens. The same logic should apply in York. As proposed, York would have 61 different areas where the ordinance would apply. This is a cumbersome solution that provides an unequal application of the law within our county. It is difficult for deputies to decipher and interpret, especially when there are different subdivisions (some included and some not) within a similar geographic area such as Dandy or Dare. The description of one area takes an entire page. It is also difficult for county citizens to determine if they are in prohibited area. Then there are those who think that they are in a prohibited area when they are not.
About five years ago, Prince George County dealt with the same situation of how to deal with the local ordinance of discharging a firearm. The same issues were considered and the Board of Supervisors there decided to repeal their ordinance. It was very similar to York’s present ordinance. The issues were multiple prohibited areas (like York’s 61 different ones) and infringement upon the rights of others. I spoke with the Chief of Police there and he told me that they have not experienced any difficulties since repealing the local ordinance. State law has covered any incidents that have occurred. He characterized Prince George County and being suburban at one end of the county and rural at the other end.
I have included relevant state laws that adequately cover firearms.
State laws that already govern activity that the county ordinance prohibits.
§ 18.2-56.1. Reckless handling of firearms; reckless handling while hunting. A. It shall be unlawful for any person to handle recklessly any firearm so as to endanger the life, limb or property of any person. Any person violating this section shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. The above law covers any discharge of a firearm that is reckless, yet still permits discharges upon property where such a discharge can be done safely. Plainly stated, I believe that is or should be the intent of the County Ordinance.
§ 18.2-279. Discharging firearms or missiles within or at building or dwelling house; penalty. If any person maliciously discharges a firearm within any building when occupied by one or more persons in such a manner as to endanger the life or lives of such person or persons, or maliciously shoots at, or maliciously throws any missile at or against any dwelling house or other building when occupied by one or more persons, whereby the life or lives of any such person or persons may be put in peril, the person so offending is guilty of a Class 4 felony. In the event of the death of any person, resulting from such malicious shooting or throwing, the person so offending is guilty of murder in the second degree. However, if the homicide is willful, deliberate and premeditated, he is guilty of murder in the first degree. If any such act be done unlawfully, but not maliciously, the person so offending is guilty of a Class 6 felony; and, in the event of the death of any person resulting from such unlawful shooting or throwing, the person so offending is guilty of involuntary manslaughter. If any person willfully discharges a firearm within or shoots at any school building whether occupied or not, he is guilty of a Class 4 felony.
§ 18.2-280. Willfully discharging firearms in public places. A. If any person willfully discharges or causes to be discharged any firearm in any street in a city or town, or in any place of public business or place of public gathering, and such conduct results in bodily injury to another person, he shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony. If such conduct does not result in bodily injury to another person, he shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. B. If any person willfully discharges or causes to be discharged any firearm upon the buildings and grounds of any public, private or religious elementary, middle or high school, he shall be guilty of a Class 4 felony, unless he is engaged in a program or curriculum sponsored by or conducted with permission of a public, private or religious school. C. If any person willfully discharges or causes to be discharged any firearm upon any public property within 1,000 feet of the property line of any public, private or religious elementary, middle or high school property he shall be guilty of a Class 4 felony, unless he is engaged in lawful hunting. ******The above section covers the discharge around schools. D. This section shall not apply to any law-enforcement officer in the performance of his official duties nor to any other person whose said willful act is otherwise justifiable or excusable at law in the protection of his life or property, or is otherwise specifically authorized by law. E. Nothing in this statute shall preclude the Commonwealth from electing to prosecute under any other applicable provision of law instead of this section.
§ 18.2-282. Pointing, holding, or brandishing firearm, air or gas operated weapon or object similar in appearance; penalty. A. It shall be unlawful for any person to point, hold or brandish any firearm or any air or gas operated weapon or any object similar in appearance, whether capable of being fired or not, in such manner as to reasonably induce fear in the mind of another or hold a firearm or any air or gas operated weapon in a public place in such a manner as to reasonably induce fear in the mind of another of being shot or injured. However, this section shall not apply to any person engaged in excusable or justifiable self-defense. Persons violating the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor or, if the violation occurs upon any public, private or religious elementary, middle or high school, including buildings and grounds or upon public property within 1,000 feet of such school property, he shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony. B. Any police officer in the performance of his duty, in making an arrest under the provisions of this section, shall not be civilly liable in damages for injuries or death resulting to the person being arrested if he had reason to believe that the person being arrested was pointing, holding, or brandishing such firearm or air or gas operated weapon, or object that was similar in appearance, with intent to induce fear in the mind of another. C. For purposes of this section, the word “firearm” means any weapon that will or is designed to or may readily be converted to expel single or multiple projectiles by the action of an explosion of a combustible material. The word “ammunition,” as used herein, shall mean a cartridge, pellet, ball, missile or projectile adapted for use in a firearm.
§ 18.2-286. Shooting in or across road or in street. If any person discharges a firearm, crossbow or bow and arrow in or across any road, or within the right-of-way thereof, or in a street of any city or town, he shall, for each offense, be guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor. The provisions of this section shall not apply to firing ranges or shooting matches maintained, and supervised or approved, by law- enforcement officers and military personnel in performance of their lawful duties.
§ 18.2-56.2. Allowing access to firearms by children; penalty. A. It shall be unlawful for any person to recklessly leave a loaded, unsecured firearm in such a manner as to endanger the life or limb of any child under the age of fourteen. Any person violating the provisions of this subsection shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor. B. It shall be unlawful for any person knowingly to authorize a child under the age of twelve to use a firearm except when the child is under the supervision of an adult. Any person violating this subsection shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. For purposes of this subsection, “adult” shall mean a parent, guardian, person standing in loco parentis to the child or a person twenty-one years or over who has the permission of the parent, guardian, or person standing in loco parentis to supervise the child in the use of a firearm.
Virginia Citizens Defense League, Inc. (VCDL). VCDL is an all-volunteer, non-partisan grassroots organization dedicated to defending the human rights of all Virginians. The Right to Keep and Bear Arms is a fundamental human right. Visit: www.vcdl.org