Town of Herndon considers banning guns on town property

Similar gun ban signage in Fairfax County (Photo courtesy of Town of Herndon/handout)

The Herndon Town Council is considering a plan to double down on banning guns on town property.

If approved, the ban would restrict the possession, use, and transportation of any firearms on specified town-owned property, including parks and community centers. It would also apply to any public street, sidewalk, right-of-way, or public place specifically being used for an official town-sponsored event.

Some residents fired off on a similar ban in Fairfax County, which was passed nearly one year ago. Alexandria, Arlington, Falls Church and other neighboring jurisdictions also have similar ordinances.

As drafted, all violations would be classified as a Class 1 Misdemeanor. The ordinance does not apply to sworn or retired law enforcement officers, military personnel who are conducting official duties, historical re-enactors, private security hired by the town, and individuals who have a concealed handgun allowed through a valid concealed handgun permit.

Gov. Ralph Northam signed enabling legislation in April 2020 that allows local governments to ban guns on public property and public spaces. The move followed a gun rally in Richmond where thousands of gun owners gathered for a rally aimed to eliminate gun restrictions.

Town officials are wrestling with the best way to enforce the ban — if passed. Officials noted that the ban is only meaningful if it is enforceable in a consistent and effective manner.

An impact analysis by the town anticipates nearly $3 million in costs to amp up security in town buildings, install signs at town parks and trails and install magnetometers. An additional $744,600 is anticipated to staff magnetometers.

“If the goal of the firearms prohibition is to protect council, staff and the public from a firearms discharge on town property, then steps would be required to ensure security,” the impact analysis notes.

A public meeting is planned for today. The public hearing begins at 7 p.m. in the Herndon Council Chambers, which are located at 765 Lynn Street. Masks are required for all attendees and entrance to the council’s chambers will be controlled in order to ensure social distancing, according to town officials.

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