FRONT ROYAL – The Front Royal Town Council during a Monday work session considered a proposed resolution stating the town's intentions of not banning firearms at town-owned buildings or properties.
This comes as a recent General Assembly decision allows localities to ban guns in certain areas, while towns previously could not pass any ordinances contradicting state law. The proposed resolution states that the town “shall not exercise any authority…to regulate or prohibit the otherwise legal purchase, possession, or transfer of firearms or ammunition.”
In effect, the proposed resolution would allow citizens to carry weapons in the Town Hall building. Town Attorney Doug Napier said via telephone Wednesday that he is unaware of current laws pertaining to carrying guns in local government buildings other than their prohibition in schools and the courthouse. Without researching the matter, Napier said he is under the assumption that guns are not currently allowed in Town Hall.
If the town passes the resolution as presented, Napier said at the Monday meeting that the town is “sort of advertising” that citizens could carry firearms into Town Hall while right now “most people probably intuitively think you’re probably not supposed to bring any firearms into a government building.”
He said council members should consider whether they are comfortable with citizens bringing guns into Town Hall, noting that people can “get a little agitated” in the lobby if their utilities are cut off due to non-payment.
He added that the resolution would open the door to multiple citizens having weapons during Town Council work sessions while there is usually just one armed police officer present.
“Would you feel comfortable in that situation?” Napier asked.
He added that there is no police presence during Planning Commission or Board of Zoning Appeals Town Hall meetings, “and some of those meetings get pretty heated.”
Additionally, he noted that the town’s employee handbook states that employees cannot carry firearms.
“Do you want employees to have firearms? Some employees may be able to be trusted to have firearms during work hours and some employees may not be…We have all kinds of employees,” he said.
Town Councilman Jake Meza said he has no desire to change the town’s handbook, but that he did not think the proposed resolution “has any bearing on that.” Councilman Letasha Thompson said if the town passes the resolution, employees should have the same rights as citizens to carry guns in Town Hall.
The council will continue discussing the resolution at a future work session.