The seven state legislators who represent Arlington County wrote a letter Wednesday to the property owner of the office where a gun store intends to open later this month, asking her to reconsider the lease.
The letter recalls the years in the 1990s when Virginia was known as the “gun-running capital of the East Coast” and warns that Nova Armory, the business that aims to locate at 2300 N. Pershing Dr., is “already marketing aggressively” to residents of other states.
Last week, the Arlington County Board also decried the plans of Nova Armory to open what the store described as a “high-end” retailer of sporting and self-defense weapons. Residents of the Lyon Park neighborhood, across Route 50 from Joint Base Ft. Myer-Henderson Hall, have raised objections to its opening. The store will be across the street from a private preschool and day care center.
The legislators —Dels. Patrick Hope, Alfonso Lopez, Richard Sullivan and Mark Levine and Sens. Barbara Favola, Janet Howell and Adam Ebbin, all Democrats — sent their letter Wednesday from Richmond, where they are in the midst of the annual legislative session.
“Given its proximity to Route 50 with easy access to Interstate 95, this location could be the site for potentially nefarious and illegal activities such as enabling individuals to successfully obtain fraudulent Virginia drivers licenses to purchase firearms, illegally paying Virginia residents to buy guns, creating a ‘black market’ to sell firearms for cash or drugs, or become a magnet for robbery as was recently the case in a firearms store in McLean, Virginia,” the letter said.
The letter also cited the potential impact to neighboring businesses and to the property values of the businesses and residences if the store opens.
“The selling of firearms, while legal, does not reflect the Arlington community’s values,” the legislators said.
Dennis Pratte, the owner of the store, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday. Last week, he wrote in an email to The Washington Post that he respects opponents’ “constitutional rights to voice their opposition to something they may not fully understand, but at the same time, we ask those same people respect our rights, and the rights of the Arlington residents, to pursue their constitutionally protected second amendment rights.”
Some Lyon Park resident have started a petition opposing Nova Armory, collecting more than 3,000 signatures so far. A petition supporting the business has topped 500 signatures.
Supporters of the store note that the business is legal under Virginia law, and they cite strong belief in the right to bear arms.
“As an Arlington resident and homeowner, I welcome this new business to the County,” wrote petition-signer Dan Alban. “A lawful firearms retailer poses no particular danger to nearby residents or businesses, and baseless hysteria about the proximity of guns is an inadequate justification for prohibiting a legitimate business from operating in the County. Legitimate businesses and other organizations should not be prevented from opening because they are unpopular or controversial.”