ARLINGTON COUNTY, Va. (FOX 5 DC) - Arlington County Board members have approved a new ordinance that bans firearms at county government buildings, parks, and events.
Supporters say it makes people safer, but legal gun owners say their rights are being trampled, especially since Virginia is an open-carry state.
Starting October 1, even legal gun owners will be prohibited from bringing weapons into Arlington County buildings, parks, or county events.
Arlington County Board member Matt de Ferranti says it’s all about safety.
"There’s danger when someone has a gun. It's around the margins, but there’s danger when someone has a gun in a confined space so you can particularly think of this in terms of government buildings that are indoors and any miss could result in an unintended injury or death," de Ferranti told FOX 5.
In July, Virginia's Democratic General Assembly majority passed a new law letting local governments regulate guns on their property. Neighboring towns like Falls Church and Alexandria have enacted similar bans.
There are exceptions for active-duty military, law enforcement, and county security personnel.
Earlier this year, some Republican-controlled counties declared themselves “Second Amendment Sanctuaries” to resist new gun control laws. Most residents who spoke at the board meeting opposed the ban.
Violators would face a Class 1 misdemeanor. The National Rifle Association says the Arlington County Board’s actions create “an incomprehensible patchwork of ever-shifting 'gun-free zones'” where law-abiding citizens are left defenseless while criminals ignore such arbitrary boundaries.
The new law could go into effect on October 1.