Pr. William board wants MCOG to stay out of gun control issue

April 4, 2013

The Prince William Board of County Supervisors wants a regional planning body of which it is a member to stay out of the national debate over gun control.

Supervisors passed a resolution, 7-1, Tuesday night, telling the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments that its position advocating for the need for stricter gun control measures is inappropriate, said Board Chairman Corey A. Stewart (R-At Large). Supervisor Frank J. Principi (D-Woodbridge) voted against the resolution.

“It is not the purpose or the mission of COG to engage in this debate,” Stewart said. “I can guarantee you that residents of Virginia do not want, expect or welcome Maryland lawmakers representing Virginians on the issue of our Second Amendment rights. What. . . do they know about controlling gun violence?”

A letter that Stewart sent to COG chairwoman Karen Young, president pro tem of the Frederick Board of Aldermen, says it joins the city of Manassas and Loudoun and Frederick counties in voicing its opposition.

The letter said that if the council does not rescind its position, Prince William, the fifth-largest member jurisdiction, will withdraw its dues of nearly $292,000.

“Our taxpayers do not need or expect COG to veer from its core mission and become distracted with national issues,” the letter said.

Young said that she is not taking sides in the debate and would allow the 22 member jurisdictions to hash out their differences. Localities, including the District and in Maryland, have argued that because COG tackles public safety issues, it is absolutely the place of the organization to make the case for stricter gun control, Young said.

The Council of Government’s March 13 resolution endorses the position of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, which has advocated for specific measures— including re-instating an assault weapons ban and prohibiting the sale of armor-piercing bullets — to address gun violence in the United States.

“In the years since the terrorist attacks of 2001, over 300,000 American lives have been lost to gun violence,” the IACP’s position paper says.

Stewart said he doesn’t agree with the IACP and doesn’t think much of the organization. “Second Amendment rights are part of the Bill of Rights and once you start compromising on basic rights like that, other rights are sure to follow,” he said.

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