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Are guns at public meetings necessary?

Date published: 4/25/2013

Are guns at public meetings necessary?

I wish to share a recent experience while attending the Stafford County Board of Supervisors public meeting on April 9 concerning the budget for Stafford schools.

The comments from the public prior to the board's deliberations were direct, forthright, and informative. However, I was concerned when one speaker in civilian clothes addressed the board while wearing a loaded pistol in the open. Whether the gentleman was an off-duty law enforcement officer or a citizen exercising his right to carry a weapon, it was, in my opinion, unnecessary, causing apprehension among others in the audience. There were two uniformed and armed Stafford County deputies present in the chamber who could have addressed any disturbance or "out of order" issues.

I was advised that Virginia state law supports the rights of citizens to openly wear firearms except on school grounds, in courts, and on federal property. While I respect individual rights of law-abiding citizens to own and carry firearms, I earnestly believe that the open-wearing of firearms in any public forum or meeting is out of place and inappropriate. I urge our legislators and elected officials to carefully review the statutes and determine what modifications can be made for the commonwealth and the common good of all its residents.

George D. Paxson