Fairfax, VA – Late last week, in a victory for gun safety in the courts, NRA-backed plaintiffs challenging Fairfax County’s common-sense gun safety ordinance restricting guns in parks and at permitted events dropped their lawsuit, abandoning their attempt to have the ordinance struck down at a trial due to start September 18. Fairfax County’s life-saving ordinance remains in effect.
The NRA, whose headquarters are located in the City of Fairfax, was an original plaintiff in the suit, which was funded by the NRA’s Civil Rights Defense Fund. The decision by the plaintiffs to withdraw their case is yet another blow to the gun lobby’s agenda of trying to strike down gun safety laws in the courts, which has only intensified in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision in Bruen.
Everytown Law, the nation’s largest and most experienced team of litigators in the U.S. working full-time on advancing gun violence prevention in the courts, represented Fairfax County in the case, alongside lawyers from the County and from the law firm Offit Kurman.
“Fairfax County’s ordinance prohibiting guns in sensitive places like parks and permitted events has undoubtedly made the Fairfax community safer,” said Janet Carter, Senior Director of Issues and Appeals at Everytown Law. “By deciding to abandon their case, the plaintiffs cleared the way for the County’s ordinance to remain in effect, a result that we are confident would have been achieved through the anticipated trial. Fairfax’s ordinance is not only a common-sense, life-saving measure, it’s also consistent with the Virginia Constitution—and with the Second Amendment.”
“Guns have no place at our parks or at permitted events,” said Lauren Kimball, Gun Violence Survivor and Virginia Moms Demand Action volunteer. “A few years ago, Moms Demand Action volunteers advocated for the passage of this common-sense ordinance because we understood that by keeping guns out of sensitive places, we could prevent gun violence in our community. I’m thrilled that these gun lobby-backed plaintiffs have dropped their case and this life-saving policy will stay in effect.”
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors overwhelmingly voted to adopt the ordinance in September 2020. The County was able to pass the life-saving ordinance after former Governor Northam signed legislation into law that rolled back Virginia’s preemption law by allowing local governments to prohibit guns in a number of sensitive places. Fairfax County’s ordinance prohibits guns in County parks, at or adjacent to County-permitted events (or events that require such a permit), community and recreation centers, and government buildings.
The plaintiffs’ decision to drop their lawsuit comes after they suffered a series of defeats in the Virginia courts. In November 2022, the Fairfax County Circuit Court denied their motion for summary judgment. In June 2023, the court denied their request for a preliminary injunction. And in July 2023, the Virginia Supreme Court granted the County’s motion to dismiss the plaintiffs’ petition for review of that denial as untimely.
The Everytown Law team includes Janet Carter, William Taylor, Kari Still, Eleuthera Sa, Ivan Wohner, Kellen Heniford, and Alison Oh.