Board approves gun business

Published 12:36 pm Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Members of the Lunenburg Board of Supervisors voted to approve a conditional use permit for a mail-order and home business specializing in Federal Firearm License transfers and repairs following a public hearing Thursday.

Four people spoke during the meeting, each voicing opposition to the business, citing concerns of weapons being purchased and kept in a residential area.

Warren Foster, of Bristow, said the land surrounding the location of the business on 1252 Burkeville Road in Victoria, is owned by him and members of his family, who were also present during the meeting.

He cited concerns about the proximity of the land to the

location of the business.

County Administrator Tracy Gee said the five members of the Lunenburg Planning Commission were present during the Sept. 21 public hearing.

Commission members Walter Thompson and Thomas Hite voted in favor of recommending the permit, Buck Tharpe and Brenda Jennings abstained and Board Representative Edward Pennington voted to deny recommending the permit.

Gee said members of the public during the Planning Commission hearing voiced concern about the project, with a member of Zion Hill Church nearby requesting that the business not operate on Sundays while the congregation is having services.

Hazel Scofield, of Suitland, Maryland, said her grandchildren will be visiting the area, and she expressed concern about people who may come from outside of the area to purchase weapons from the business.

“There are just some terrible things going on in the world,” Scofield said. “We don’t know. You might think you know your children, our grandchildren, but we don’t know what the next person will do.”

Sylvester Stokes, of Capital Heights, Maryland, said he wants to preserve the area’s safety and suggested establishing the business in a business district.

“Even though at least to my knowledge, there haven’t been any violent acts in that neighborhood, I would like to keep it that way,” Stokes said. “I’m for business, but I believe the business should be in a business district, especially in a controlled district.”

Permit applicant Christopher Richardson spoke during the hearing, saying that he would have the license to transfer firearms and that no weapons would be in residence for a long period of time.

“I would allow people to purchase firearms, but that would only be if someone requested it,” Richardson said.

“The longer I have something on my hands, the more I would be liable for it,” Richardson said.

He said he currently repairs firearms and applied for the permit to expand his mail-order and home business to transfer firearms. He said as a dealer he could deny sales to applicants that appear suspicious. The business would operate 90 percent online.

“That way there is a paper trail and the proper background check forms will be as legal as you can get. I want to do it legally and do everything properly,” Richardson said.

He said no guns would be allowed to be shot at the site of the business, but would be shot off site in town.

District Two Supervisor Mike Hankins asked Richardson about the location the guns would be tested.

“As a gunsmith, you can’t fire guns on your property,” Hankins said. “Where would you go to fire them?”

Richardson said guns are tested or shot at a nearby property owned by his father.

By a show of hands, District Three Representative Frank Bacon, District Four Representative Charles Slayton, District Seven Representative Robert Zava, District One Representative T. Wayne Hoover and District Two Representative Mike Hankins voted favoring the permit.

District Five Representative Edward Pennington and District Six Representative Alvester Edmonds voted to deny the permit.

Mary Harvin, of Lithonia, Georgia, spoke during the meeting and said her son had been killed as a result of being shot.

She said after the meeting she was disappointed about the decision and the impact the business could have on the surrounding area.

“It shows they are not really thinking about people in the community,” Harvin said.

Richardson said he was relieved following the decision and the determination of the board.

“Glad people weren’t biased,” Richardson said.

“It was a drawn out process,” Richardson said. “(It’s) good it’s done.”