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March 8, 2016

State Lawmakers Forget State Law and Their Oaths of Office

Seven Arlington and Alexandria, Virginia state lawmakers apparently see nothing wrong with opportunistically trying to use their offices and collective influence to disrupt a legitimate business, NOVA Armory, a federally licensed retailer, set to open this month.

By sending a letter to the landlord of the property “strongly urging” him to cancel the lease, it is clear these lawmakers have little respect for the process and protections provided by local ordinances and state laws, let alone a fundamental constitutional right of their constituents and fellow citizens.

Senators Barbara Favola, Janet Howell, and Adam Ebbin, along with Delegates Patrick Hope, Alfonso Lopez, Richard Sullivan and Mark Levine seem to have forgotten that firearms are a part of legal commerce, whatever their personal views may be about gun ownership.

Attempting to make it more difficult for Arlington residents to exercise their Second Amendment right speaks volumes about what they don’t know and what really works to protect public safety. Hint: It’s to focus on criminals.

The legislators ignore the fact that Virginia law directly preempts local government from regulating firearms. So rather than respecting and standing up for equal treatment under state law, they would encourage extra-legal pressure tactics on the local level.

These lawmakers have no jurisdiction on this issue, of course, and they acknowledge as much. But they go on to level unsupportable claims that the presence of NOVA Armory will give rise to a “black market” and “drug dealing.” These charges are outlandish and irresponsible – but they probably believe they will play well to their political bases, like we need more politics over governance.

These legislators need to educate themselves about the substantial federal regulation of firearms retailers and how criminals actually obtain guns, rather than propagating fear for their own political gain. That is called pandering and it is pathetic.

They would also do well to remember that private property owners have the legal right to decide how they use and to what businesses they lease their properties.  Property owners should not have to fear the anti-business threats of legislators elected to represent all their constituents.

We fully support the opening of NOVA Armory and would point out that these elected officials are, in fact, seeking to misuse their influence to deny their own constituents a local option for the exercise of a constitutional right. Certainly their oaths of office cover upholding and defending all the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia and of the United States. What we see, however, is the unnecessary and unproductive politics of division and that is a sad commentary on these legislators, indeed.

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