Gun owners claim Peninsula Town Center is illegally banning firearms

This all started when a gun owner saw a sign at Peninsula Town Center. The sign said:

Maintain Proper Decorum
Do not engage in behavior that can be described as obscene, offensive and/or may disturb others or interrupt normal business activity.  Examples include:

  • Running, yelling, skating, skateboarding, rollerblading, playing of radios or littering.
  • Possessing any open container of alcohol or consuming alcohol anywhere except in businesses licensed to sell adult beverages or at official PTC events.
  • The use of offensive language such as swear words or racial slurs as well as inappropriate hand gestures, including but not restricted to gang signs or symbols, loud or boisterous behavior, or throwing of objects.
  • Inappropriate attire. No offensive message or picture may be displayed on clothing.
  • Unauthorized photography/videography on PTC property.
  • Soliciting, including the exchange of personal information, picketing, literature distribution or panhandling.
  • Failure to respond to a reasonable request or direction from PTC staff.
  • Refusal to present appropriate photo ID with proof of age if requested by security or other PTC staff.
  • Animals that are not in the company of and trained to assist physically challenged persons.
  • Weapons of any kind.

A discussion on the internet followed claiming that the person involved had spoken to Chief Sutherland of Mall Security and the Chief said it was private property and if they showed up, they would be asked to leave.

Apparently the Mall or a major portion is owned by an Authority. Hampton reords show the following:
Sec. 2-377. – Created; composition; powers and duties; etc.


(a)
[
Findings.]

WHEREAS, the Virginia Water and Waste Authorities Act, Chapter 51, Title 15.2 of the Code of Virginia of 1950, as amended (the “Act”), authorizes the creation of a community development authority on the petition of the landowners of at least fifty-one (51) percent of the land area or assessed value of land of a tract of any size within a city;


WHEREAS, the City Council of the City of Hampton, Virginia (the “city council”), has received a petition (the “petition”) from Hampton Mall Associates, a Virginia general partnership (the “landowner”), for the creation of the Peninsula Town Center Community Development Authority (the “CDA”), and the establishment of the boundaries of the Peninsula Town Center Community Development Authority District (the “CDA district”);


WHEREAS, the landowner has represented that it owns at least fifty-one (51) percent of the land included in the proposed CDA district;


WHEREAS, a public hearing has been held on February 8, 2006, by the city council on the adoption of this section and notice has been duly provided as set forth in §§ 15.2-5104 and 15.2-5156 of the Act;


WHEREAS, the city council proposes to create the CDA in order to provide the public improvements described in the petition and to establish the boundaries of the CDA district;


WHEREAS, the creation of the CDA to assist in financing certain improvements in connection with the proposed development within the CDA district will benefit the citizens of the City of Hampton, Virginia (the “city”), by providing additional residential and commercial options in a network of connected public streets and urban park sites for the citizens of the city, as well as public improvements benefiting the citizens of the city, will promote economic development and redevelopment and expansion of the city’s tax base and will meet the increased demands placed upon the city as a result of development within the CDA District; and


WHEREAS, the landowner has waived in writing the right to withdraw its signature from the petition in accordance with § 15.2-5156(B) of the Act.


Now, therefore, be it ordained by the City Council of the City of Hampton, Virginia:

(b)
Creation of authority. The Peninsula Town Center Community Development Authority is hereby created as a public body politic and corporate and political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Virginia in accordance with the applicable provisions of the Act. The CDA shall have the powers set forth in the Act.

(c)
Boundaries of CDA. The CDA district is hereby established and the boundaries shall initially include the property identified in the attached Exhibit A. In accordance with § 15.2-5157 of the Act, a copy of this section shall be recorded in the land records of the Circuit Court of the City of Hampton for each tax map parcel in the CDA district as such CDA district exists at the time of issuance of the CDA’s bonds and the CDA district shall be noted on the land records of the city. The city manager, upon the request of the CDA, may modify the boundaries of the CDA district before or after the issuance of the CDA’s bonds to permit exchanges of certain property included in the CDA district for property owned by the city and located within the perimeter of the CDA district (but not included in the CDA district on the date hereof), up to three (3) acres.

Does the Authority have the power to ban firearms? Not being an attorney, all I can do is post the applicable law.

§ 15.2-915. Control of firearms; applicability to authorities and local governmental agencies.

A. No locality shall adopt or enforce any ordinance, resolution or motion, as permitted by § 15.2-1425, and no agent of such locality shall take any administrative action, governing the purchase, possession, transfer, ownership, carrying, storage or transporting of firearms, ammunition, or components or combination thereof other than those expressly authorized by statute. For purposes of this section, a statute that does not refer to firearms, ammunition, or components or combination thereof, shall not be construed to provide express authorization.

Nothing in this section shall prohibit a locality from adopting workplace rules relating to terms and conditions of employment of the workforce. Nothing in this section shall prohibit a law-enforcement officer, as defined in § 9.1-101 from acting within the scope of his duties.

The provisions of this section applicable to a locality shall also apply to any authority or to a local governmental entity, including a department or agency, but not including any local or regional jail or juvenile detention facility.

B. Any local ordinance, resolution or motion adopted prior to the effective date of this act governing the purchase, possession, transfer, ownership, carrying or transporting of firearms, ammunition, or components or combination thereof, other than those expressly authorized by statute, is invalid.

(1987, c. 629, § 15.1-29.15; 1988, c. 392; 1997, cc. 550, 587; 2002, c. 484; 2003, c. 943; 2004, cc. 837, 923.)


That’s the Virginia Statute that seems to be in question.

I spoke to Chief Sutherland. The Chief told me that it was private property but he would prefer I speak to the General Manager. Raymond Tripp.

Mr. Tripp did acknowledge that it was owned by an Authority but they had the right under Virginia Law to establish Community Standards.

He explained that Vincent J. Mastracco Jr. Esquire was the attorney for the board. Mr Tripp took a message for Mr. Mastracco to call me. He has not as of this time.

Next, I called the City Attorneys office. The Lawyer that would handle this Authority is working from home. An email was sent asking her to call. I have not received a call from her either.

This is how it stands for right now. A layman’s view of the law appears that the Authority is in violation and we have no further input from the City. As this unfolds, I’ll update the story.

Update:

I spoke to Mr Tripp again today. He discussed the matter with their Attorneys and they agreed that the law was clear. The No guns rule would be removed from any Authority property.

The City Attorney’s office has likewise notified the Police Department.

The decision to allow weapons within individual stores will be left to the Tenants.

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