Guns allowed in county buildings

Published 2:42 pm Wednesday, February 22, 2017

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

Isle of Wight County cannot ban firearms from being brought into the courthouse complex.

That was the conclusion offered recently by Isle of Wight County attorney Mark Popovich when asked the question.

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The Code of Virginia states that no locality can prohibit the public from bringing guns to a public building, such as the Robert C. Claud Sr. boardroom, unless it obtains permission from the state, Popovich said. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

Popovich said there had been concerns expressed by county staff in the past about armed persons coming in the building and some measures were taken, such as the window and security door at the administrative building.

“Unfortunately, in this day and age we have to worry about this,” Popovich said.

Another barrier aimed to protect the Board of Supervisors, a fence erected in the boardroom, was removed when the new Board took office in January 2016.

Popovich also advised board members of the rules applying to carrying a gun. If the weapon is not visible, then the owner must have a concealed handgun permit. If the gun is in the open, no concealed permit is required as Virginia provides for open carrying of guns, he said.

At the same time, a private business can make its own rules, he added.

“I have always felt safe in this boardroom,” said Board Chairman Rex Alphin.

Last year, Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed an executive order banning the open carry of guns in buildings used by executive branch agencies.