From PVC at VCDL:
I have just fired off the email below to the Martinsville City Council on an illegal gun ban that covers Martinsville’s entire municipal building. They are using the guise that just because a few rooms in the building are courtrooms, that makes the whole building a courthouse.
Not so. VCDL wants the policy changed to only ban guns in rooms used by the Court.
If you live in the Martinsville area, VCDL is going to be on the Martinsville City Council’s agenda for Tuesday, August 23rd, at 7:30 PM to address this issue. The more gun owners we have at that meeting to show support for VCDL’s position, the better. I will send a reminder as the date draws near.
Here is the email to City Council:
Dear Martinsville City Council, City Council Clerk, and City Attorney,
As the President of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, a gun-rights organization with 5,000 members and another 15,000 email alert subscribers, an issue has been brought to my attention dealing with a gun ban that covers Martinsville’s entire municipal building.
The sign on the door of the Municipal Building says in part, “Attention Court Participants. The following are prohibited in the COURTROOM of the Juvenile Domestic Relations of the City of Martinsville…It is unlawful to carry any weapon of any kind into the COURTROOM including a pocket knife…” (emphasis on “courtroom” is mine).
We have no issues with the sign or its wording. As written it is correct. HOWEVER, how the City is implementing that gun ban (applying it to the entire Municipal Building) is not legal for 2 reasons:
1. Just because a building has a few courtrooms in it does not make the entire building a courthouse. The Courts have already ruled so: ”Only that part of the courthouse building necessary for the use and occupancy of the circuit court constituted the courthouse . . . .” Bd. of Supervisors v. Com. of Accounts, 215 Va. 722, 724, 214 S.E.2d 137, ___ (1975)
2. Except for the rooms used by the Court, the City is preempted from banning firearms in the rest of the building by Virginia Code 15.2-915 in part:
“§ 15.2-915. Control of firearms; applicability to authorities and local governmental agencies.
A. No locality shall adopt or enforce any ordinance, resolution or motion, as permitted by § 15.2-1425, and no agent of such locality shall take any administrative action, governing the purchase, possession, transfer, ownership, carrying, storage or transporting of firearms, ammunition, or components or combination thereof other than those expressly authorized by statute. For purposes of this section, a statute that does not refer to firearms, ammunition, or components or combination thereof, shall not be construed to provide express authorization.
C. In addition to any other relief provided, the court may award reasonable attorney fees, expenses, and court costs to any person, group, or entity that prevails in an action challenging (i) an ordinance, resolution, or motion as being in conflict with this section or (ii) an administrative action taken in bad faith as being in conflict with this section.”
Please conform the Municipal Building ban on the otherwise lawful carry of firearms to comply with state law as soon as possible. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.
Philip Van Cleave
Virginia Citizens Defense League
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