RICHMOND – Localities stand to lose the ability to restrict employees from bringing guns to work under legislation moving through General Assembly.
A bill from Del. Brenda Pogge would prohibit local governments from banning workers from keeping firearms and ammunition locked in their vehicles parked in publicly-owned lots.
Pogge, R-James City County, said her bill, HB375, is intended to protect the constitutional rights of lawful gun owners.
The bill, which was approved by the Republican-run Senate Courts of Justice Committee on a 9-6 vote Monday, does not prevent localities from barring guns inside the workplace. All but one Democrat on the committee — Sen. John Edwards, D-Roanoke — voted against the measure.
Pogge’s bill carves out exemptions for public schools, regional and local jails, juvenile detention facilities and local behavioral health offices. And it does not apply to college property, which has been the focal point of a continuing debate over restrictions of guns on campus.
Opposition to the bill came from Andrew Goddard of the Virginia Center for Public Safety.
Goddard, a gun control advocate whose son was injured during the 2007 shooting massacre at Virginia Tech, said localities should be able to decide which public property is a sensitive place where guns shouldn’t be allowed.
Speaking in support of the bill was Philip Van Cleave of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, who said public workers should be permitted to store guns in their cars so they can access them after work for leisure activities such as hunting or for self-defense.
-Julian Walker, The (Norfolk) Virginian-Pilot