Last night, the Richmond and Charlottesville City Councils passed amended and new ordinances, respectively, prohibiting guns at permitted events in the cities. The Charlottesville ordinance also prohibited firearms in government buildings, parks, and recreational or community centers operated by the city. The ordinances come after a series of heavily armed gatherings in these cities, including recent protests, a rally by armed extremists in January, and the “Unite the Right” rally that drew armed white supramacists to Charlottesville.
“Each ordinance keeping guns out of sensitive places is a win for public safety,” said Jennifer Herrera, a volunteer with the Virginia chapter of Moms Demand Action. “Last year, we elected candidates up and down the ballot who would fight for gun safety. Now, more Virginia communities are actively fighting gun violence than ever before.”
Local officials across Virginia have utilized the new local control law, and more than 700,000 Virginia residents now live in communities that have enacted rules to prohibit guns in municipal buildings, parks and other sensitive locations. Richmond became the first city to enact such an ordinance when it passed the policy in 2019 — exactly one year before Virginia’s preemption repeal went into effect. In the month since the law went into effect, the cities of Alexandria and Newport News have also joined the list. Fairfax County and Falls Church City are expected to hold meetings on similar ordinances in the coming months.
These votes are further evidence of the gun lobby’s waning influence in the commonwealth, after a landmark year for gun safety and the commitment from local officials to keep communities safe from gun violence. This session, Virginia lawmakers passed legislation that unties the hands of local officials, empowering them to pass ordinances that prohibit people from carrying guns where they don’t belong. Previously, Virginia’s preemption law prohibited cities and towns from passing or enforcing this type of local public safety law.
Moms Demand Action volunteers are a driving force behind gun safety in Virginia, despite armed intimidation. When thousands of gun extremists – including out-of-state militia groups – descended on Richmond in January, more than 100 volunteers from Virginia and 23 states made nearly 3,000 calls, connecting Virginia voters with their legislators to thank them for supporting common-sense gun safety legislation. And from the first day of the legislative session to the last, volunteers were there to support lawmakers in their efforts to enact common-sense gun safety, leading to a historic year for gun safety in Virginia.
Lawmakers’ failure to take action on gun violence drove Moms Demand Action and Everytown to launch a statewide campaign to flip the General Assembly to a gun sense majority. Everytown for Gun Safety Action and Everytown for Gun Safety Victory Fund spent more than $2.5 million — the largest outside investment in Virginia’s 2020 elections.
If you have any questions, or would like to speak with a volunteer about these efforts, please don’t hesitate to reach out