Covington VA –-(Ammoland.com)- It has come to VCDL's attention that Chesterfield County has a terribly worded ordinance that makes it sound like someone with a loaded gun cannot be within a 100 yards of a county park or a K-12 school.
A member reported an incident that happened earlier this week where a Chesterfield officer told a gun owner open carrying in a park that he could not have a gun there. The gun owner told the officer that he didn't believe that was true. The officer talked to another officer and after looking at the county code, said that guns are not legal in a County park. The gun owner left the park without incident or being charged.
After investigating I found that the ordinance is horribly written and prohibits loaded firearms in violation of state law (15.2-915). Poorly written laws can confuse the public, as well as the police, and can lead to unintended consequences. Roanoke County, are you listening?
Of course VCDL members know better because you are very much aware of the state preemption law (15.2-915). Sadly, not everyone is a VCDL member, including many police officers.
I have contacted the police department and spoke with Sergeant Moore. It was a pleasant conversation with the Sgt. definitely interested in getting this matter straighten out. (My past experience with Chesterfield County PD has been positive and professional. VCDL has had few problems in Chesterfield.) I gave the Sgt. the names of the officers involved, but emphasized that VCDL does not wish to see a complaint filed against them based on the bad ordinance wording, but that we do want this resolved so it doesn't happen again. Sgt. Moore said he would contact the County Attorney on Monday.
I have also left my own voice mail with the County Attorney's office and will follow up on Monday.
The next step is to see what the County Attorney's office says. I expect they will agree with us and VCDL will work with the County Attorney on new wording for the ordinance and work with the Board of Supervisors to get the ordinance changed.
Here is the ordinance:
Sec. 14-11. – Same—Hunting or carrying a loaded firearm near public schools or parks.
(b) No person shall transport, possess or carry a loaded firearm within 100 yards of any property line of any county public school or county park, except as otherwise permitted by state law.
The problem is that there is nowhere in the law that PERMITS carry in parks. But there is no state law against it, so it is absolutely legal.
Here is the state law that Chesterfield used to authorize that ordinance:
§ 29.1-527. Counties, cities or towns may prohibit hunting near public schools and county, city, town or regional parks.
The governing body of any county, city or town may prohibit by ordinance, shooting or hunting with a firearm, or prohibit hunters from traversing an area while in possession of a loaded firearm, within 100 yards of any property line of a public school or a county, city, town or regional park. The governing body may, in such ordinance, provide that any violation thereof shall be a Class 4 misdemeanor. Nothing in this section shall give any county, city or town the authority to enforce such an ordinance on lands within a national or state park or forest, or wildlife management area.
As you can see, that code is about HUNTING and SHOOTING, not the carry of a gun for self-defense.
The ordinance should be worded something like this to avoid any future confusion:
(b) No person shall transport, possess or carry a loaded firearm within 100 yards of any property line of any county public school or county park WHILE HUNTING, except as otherwise permitted by state law.
I'll keep you updated as this moves through the County government.
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