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Gun rights advocates hope new Republicans will roll back local authority

Virginia Capitol Polce

After years of advocating for the authority to ban firearms from local parks and government buildings, local governments finally got the ability to take action last summer. And many did. Now that Republicans are taking control of the Executive Mansion and the House of Delegates, many gun-rights enthusiasts are hoping that local authority will be ended.

"I don't want to have to be in a position of going, 'Oh jeez I'm going to Alexandria. I was going to meet somebody in the park. Oh, can I carry a gun there?' That's only a recipe to get someone like me, who doesn't commit any crime, inadvertently into trouble," says Philip Van Cleve, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League. "And you're disarming me. So that if something did happen in the park that day, I would be helpless when I didn't need to be helpless."

Advocates for preventing gun violence say local governments should be able to determine what's in the best interest of their local communities. One is Lori Haas at the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. "Gun owners, for the most part, are law-abiding citizens. And I believe they are more than capable of learning the laws of whatever jurisdictions they're planning to visit," Haas argues.

Many gun rights enthusiasts want Haas removed from the Crime Commission, which makes recommendations on bills that deal with firearms. She says she has no plans on leaving the commission before her term is up next summer.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.