Gun ban approved for some buildings in Herndon by City Council
HERNDON, VA – Herndon City Council voted 4 to 3 on Tuesday night to pass a resolution banning guns in parts of town. The order approved by the council was less binding than that of municipal staff presented earlier this month.
A violation of the new Firearms Prohibition Ordinance is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor. Under the Virginia Code, a Class 1 misdemeanor carries a jail term of up to 12 months. and / or a fine of up to $ 2,500.
Under the motion passed by council, firearms are restricted in city buildings accessible to staff and / or the public. However, firearms are permitted in all city parks and in all streets, roads, alleys, sidewalks or public rights-of-way adjacent to city-authorized events.
Under the new ordinance, the gun ban would only affect the following city buildings:
- Herndon Council Room – 765 Lynn Street
- Herndon Municipal Center – 777 Lynn Street
- Old Town Hall – 730 Elden Street
- Herndon Community Center – 814 Ferndale Avenue.
- Herndon Golf Course Club House – 909 Ferndale Ave.
- Public Works Town Shop – 1479 Sterling Road
- Public Works Operations / Aqueduct and Sewers – 1481 Sterling Road
- Herndon Police Department – 397 Herndon Parkway
- Cemetery offices – 831, chemin Dranesville
- Cemetery maintenance workshop – 831, chemin Dranesville
The gun ban applies to all residents and visitors to the city. Those exempted from the ban include law enforcement and security personnel hired by the city. In addition, the ordinance does not apply to firearms exhibits modified for safety reasons as part of educational programs and events.
The new ordinance authorizes the director general to put in place security measures in order to implement the ban. In addition, the ordinance requires the city to post explanatory signage in places where firearms are prohibited. The ordinance will go into effect on January 1, 2022, which will give the city time to purchase appropriate signage and safety equipment in order to enforce the new restrictions.
In 2020, the Virginia General Assembly passed a law allowing localities to pass ordinances prohibiting the possession of firearms in certain cases. The law entered into force on July 1, 2020.
After the law was passed, a number of jurisdictions in Northern Virginia passed ordinances limiting the possession of firearms on public property, including Arlington County, Town of Falls Church, Town of Fairfax and Fairfax County.
City council began discussing a firearms ordinance in September 2020 and a draft ordinance was presented during the April 6 working session. In a June 1 working session, council voted to schedule public hearings on the draft ordinance on September 7 and 14, and at Tuesday’s meeting.
The city’s lawyer, Lesa Yeatts, presented two proposed orders on Tuesday for the consideration of the council. The first was the original draft ordinance presented at the council working session earlier this month.
The second option, which was the one that council ultimately adopted, came out of the working session on September 21, in which council members asked the city attorney to present a version that focused solely on the restriction of firearms in city buildings.
In the first option, firearms would have been restricted on all public property or places operating under the authority of the local government. This included government office buildings, public parks and recreation centers. In addition, firearms would be restricted on public streets, roads, alleys or sidewalks or public rights-of-way that were used for or were adjacent to any city sponsored event.
Ahead of the gun ban vote, the council held several public hearings and listened to supporters and critics of the gun ban project.
At the end of Tuesday night’s public hearing, Councilor Signe Friedrichs made a motion to postpone the vote, which was seconded by Councilor Naila Alam. This motion failed on a 2-5 vote.
Council member Jasbinder Singh then made a motion to adopt the proposed second ordinance with updated wording in one section. He explained that the new language would only require metal detectors to be installed in the Herndon council chamber and no other building owned by the town. This would keep the installation of security devices at around $ 41,000, with annual costs of around $ 19,000. He based his figures provided in the staff report.
“This proposal really does the minimum possible response we can have and protects our people,” he said.
Deputy Mayor Cesar del Aguila seconded Singh’s motion, which was then put to a vote.
Board members Alam and Pradip Dhakal voted with Singh and del Aguila for approval. Council members Friedrichs and Sean Regan joined Mayor Sheila A. Olem in voting no.