Just ahead of what is likely to be a contentious showdown on gun control on the floor of Congress tomorrow, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments today voted to reverse its position endorsing the International Association of Police Chiefs position advocating stricter gun controls.
The COG board voted 24-4 to reconsider the March action and then 26-2 to approve a substitute motion that leaves the position on gun control up to the member localities.
Both County Chairman Scott K. York (R-At Large) and Supervisor Matt Letourneau (R-Dulles), who represent Loudoun on the COG board, voted in support of the substitute motion.
Last month, after the COG board voted to endorse the gun control position, Loudoun’s all-Republican board voted to withhold the county’s FY14 $250,000 dues payment unless the COG board reversed the action. The money remained in the budget for FY14, with instructions to County Administrator Tim Hemstreet not to release the money unless the position is changed.
The board also sent a letter to COG Chairman Karen Lewis Young stating: “It is the position of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors that the policy resolution adopted by the MWCOG Board of Directors is both inappropriate and disrespectful of the individual positions of the member governments and our law enforcement entities.”
The letter noted that gun control “is a national and state issue, and one in which localities in Virginia are required by statute [known as the Dillon Rule] to cede to the Commonwealth.”
During Wednesday’s meeting, the new COG position seems to reflect those ideals. The approved motion states that the COG Board of Directors “encourages Directors and Member Jurisdictions to individually or collectively share their opinions regarding addressing gun violence with state and federal legislators.”
It also restates its direction for a COG committee to look at issues related to gun control, including mental health, school safety, and gun safety, with the committee reporting back to the full board within six months. The fact that the IAPC position had not been vetted through the COG committee process was another sticking point for those who opposed COG’s initial endorsement.
Along those lines, the new resolution directs COG’s executive director to “formalize criteria and a process to develop future legislative positions in conjunction with the Legislative Committee, to review the draft process with a past Board Chairs group no later than June 2013, and to include discussion of the process at the Board’s annual retreat.”
York said he was satisfied with today's action.
“It encourages those local jurisidiction who choose to do something with respect to the issue to do it, and that is the place that is appropriate,” he said this afternoon. “And it will send to the Board of Directors retreat [direction] for the board to have a discussion on what is appropriate and not appropriate for COG to get into.”
After Loudoun’s board took its stand against the COG action, other localities followed, including Frederick County, MD, the City of Manassas and Prince William County, each of which also threatened to withhold its dues. Gaithersburg, MD, and the City of Fairfax sent letters requesting reconsideration, but did not threaten to withold their dues.