WINCHESTER — Last week's deadly siege at the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C., has government agencies across the country questioning the safety of their employees and facilities.

Winchester's City Council is expected to initiate a discussion tonight on whether citizens should be banned from carrying firearms and ammunition into any city government building, property or event.

"This is something councilors have been discussing since last year when the state Legislature passed a law enabling us to do it," City Manager Dan Hoffman said on Monday about the proposal. "The conversation didn't start because of what happened last week, but it definitely drove home the importance of getting this in place."

On July 1, Section 15.2-915(E) of the Code of Virginia was enacted to allow any locality in the commonwealth to prohibit citizens from bringing guns or ammunition into any location where government-sanctioned activities are taking place.

According to the measure expected to be introduced to City Council tonight, "this ordinance would prohibit the possession of firearms in all city government buildings including [Rouss] City Hall, the Creamery Building, the War Memorial Building [in Jim Barnett Park], the Department of Social Services building, the Timbrook Public Safety Center and Annex building, City Yards and any other building owned by, or being used by, the city for governmental purposes. It would also apply to any city public park and certain public rights-of-way in connection to permitted events."

The prohibition would apply to every citizen, even those who have been issued concealed-carry permits for firearms, with the exception of sworn law-enforcement personnel, active-duty military performing official duties, security personnel contracted by the city, museum displays, historical re-enactors, Senior Reserve Officers' Training Corps program personnel or any intercollegiate athletics programs involving the use of firearms.

Violations would be a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of $2,500.

Hoffman said he is not aware of any recent situations where a person carrying a firearm presented a threat to city personnel or people attending a city-permitted event.

"As city manager, the safety of staff and employees here is always my utmost concern," he said. "Any possibility that something could happen similar to what happened last week weighs heavily on my mind."

City Council is scheduled to discuss the proposed firearm restriction at its work session tonight, which begins immediately after the panel's regular business meeting at 6 p.m. Due to Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam's pandemic-released restriction on large gatherings, the meeting and work session will be conducted virtually and streamed live on Winchester's YouTube page, youtube.com/user/CityOfWinchesterVA.

— Contact Brian Brehm at bbrehm@winchesterstar.com

(24) comments

clskinsfan

Commie gun grabbers in action again. When will you leftists get it through your head that criminals do not follow the law. Because they are CRIMINALS. All you are doing is disarming law abiding citizens. There have been 3 murders in this county this year. Something that in the past was never heard of. We live in dangerous times. And all the left wants to do is prevent people from defending themselves and their families. While they sit on their thrones protected by armed police. It is ridiculous.

Bryan.the.Nuri

Commies? Hardly. Just because you don't agree with something doesn't it make it communist. Until you sign a contract, you just want to play cowboy. Chances are, you're more of a danger to others than to the intended target. Get over yourself.

wallet00

I don't understand the logic. If guns were banned at the US Capitol, and people had them anyway, wouldn't the same apply to Winchester? If they want to go this route, they should make a carve-out for concealed handgun license holders, excluding them from the ban.

Doc Samson

@wallet00 - Because there is no logic, just the sweet stupidity of emotional "feelz"... totally based on "the science", of course!

john brown

wah wah wah .... mommy I can't take my gun with me to city hall? why woul you need it? boogieman issues?

clskinsfan

I wonder if you would feel the same if one of those murdered in the county this year was one of your family members. Why do we need to take our guns with us? For protection of course. But like most liberals your post reeks of being an emotional wreck.

Bryan.the.Nuri

Were they murdered at City Hall? Or at Apple Blossom?

PhilipVanCleave

Notice how City Council doesn't care about the citizens being able to protect themselves. Citizens can pound sand while the government surrounds itself with armed guards. This is why people think so little of government any more. They work for us, but you'd be hard pressed to prove it.

Bryan.the.Nuri

How many gunfights are happening in City Hall? Do we need cowboys here4 at Apple Blossom?

Oh, right... you don't live here. You don't know what is going on.

Bryan.the.Nuri

And, for that matter, how many gun fights do you fantasize you could survive, Phil?

redsox

The only way to get reprieve from this will be for someone to file a suit challenging it ("it" being anything Council adopts or the state legislation that enabled it) and for it to work its way through the VA Supreme Court and, if necessary, the US Supreme Court to be struck down as unconstitutional.

soulmates

There are plenty of ways to kill someone without a gun such as knives, box cutters etc. My point is that if someone is intent on hurting people they will unless someone is there that can stop them. There are many incidents where citizens who were legally armed stopped a killing. We do not have enough police to man every government building. [rolleyes][ohmy]

john brown

we have more than enough police to man the building especially if we make carrying guns onto government building illegal... you guns nuts can hug your guns at home...I know this world is a very scary place for you gun nuts but you can hide out safely hugging your guns at home.

john brown

It's common sense to band firearms from schools, government facilites and other public facilities... as last Wednesday pointed out, we are surrounded by nutbags, too many with too many guns

clskinsfan

And you actually think CRIMINALS, people who dont follow the law by very definition, would follow this one for some strange reason?

Bryan.the.Nuri

By that logic, we need to repeal all murder laws, because criminals break that one, too...

Dadof3

I have spent the past week trying to educate people that the constitution is a contract between the government and its citizens, and here we have a local government discussing violating that contract by infringing on those rights.

Doc Samson

Yes, let's make a law for a problem that is non-existent in this community and that anyone bent on destruction/violence will not follow anyway. Typical bureaucratic "feel good" uselessness...

jmapplin

Call your city council representatives. Tell them how you feel and that you vote.

john brown

I did call my council person and told them that I think barring guns is a very good start....

jmapplin

The supremacy clause and a constitutional amendment Make this discussion moot. Prove me wrong.

Bryan.the.Nuri

Sure. Guns are not permitted in Virginia schools as per Virginia Code.

Next?

slowe

YES! Ban guns whenever possible.

clskinsfan

How about we ban liberalism instead?

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