Citizen wants supervisors to include firearms sales as a home occupation

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By John Barnhart

Jerry Craig took the opportunity that the 15 minute citizen comment period affords at the beginning of each board of supervisors meeting to talk to the supervisors about home occupation. Craig asked the supervisors to include firearms sales as a permitted home occupation in residential zones.
    “I personally support this,” Craig said.    
    Craig said that, in order to sell firearms, a person must get a federal firearms license (FFL), issued by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF). This means that they must abide by the same rules as a firearms dealer who has a store.
    According to Craig, FFL holders selling firearms from their homes don’t advertise as they don’t want a lot of people coming to them. He said he knew of one who ordered the firearms that a civic organization raffled off as a fundraiser on two occasions. These two raffles raised a total of $16,000 for the organization.    
    “They are very community oriented,” he said.
    Craig said that firearms can only be delivered to a FFL holder via FedEx or UPS and require an adult signature upon delivery. Craig said he once ordered a gun through a home dealer and experienced a five day delay in picking up the gun because nobody was home to sign for it when the gun arrived at the dealer’s house.
    He said that a gun buyer purchasing from a home dealer has to fill out both state and federal forms, the same as he would if he were buying it in a store. The home dealer then runs a background check, just as a gun store would. The big difference is that the home dealer has less overhead than a gun shop does and may charge less.
    They buyer then typically leaves the home dealer’s house with the gun in its box and shipping box. Craig said gun buyers do this because, if there is a need to ship the gun back, he has the boxes. Furthermore, if he decides to sell it later, the gun has greater resale value if the seller still has the original box.
    Craig told the supervisors that both the Commonwealth of Virginia and BATF permit FFL holders to sell guns from single family dwellings, condos and public housing — even hotels and motels.
    “If it’s OK with the feds, if it’s OK with the state, I hope it’s OK with you,” Craig said.

    In business Monday, the supervisors voted 4-2 to approve a franchise agreement with Comcast. During discussion, two supervisors expressed concern about Comcast’s willingness to provide service to all people in their franchise area who want their high speed Internet service.
    “I’m very concerned with the service we are getting from Comcast,” commented District 1 Supervisor Bill Thomasson. Thomasson cast one of the two dissenting votes.
    “I personally applied for service,” said District 6 Supervisor Annie Pollard.
    Pollard said that she was quoted a price and given an account number, then told that “somebody local was supposed to call.” That didn’t happen and, when Pollard checked back due to the delay, she was told that she would have to pay a $5,000 fee up front.
    “I understand why they didn’t call,” she said. “I’d be ashamed to call and tell him that.”
    Pollard cast the other dissenting vote.
    A representative of Comcast said that the up-front fee was because the distance between her home and their existing cable was larger than normal. He apologized for not getting back to her in a timely manner.
    The supervisors also voted to enter into an agreement with the city of Bedford to take over building code enforcement and issue building permits in the city. This was due to happen with reversion, but the contract allows the county to take this over early because the city’s building official has retired.
    The supervisors also authorized the transfer of $27,000 from the contingency fund to cover expenses associated with hauling away debris from the June 29 derecho.
    “This is significantly lower than we had estimated,” said Sheldon Cash, the county’s director of public works. The original estimate was $75,000. Cash said they collected 160 tons of debris.
    The supervisors set Nov. 5 as the date to interview candidates for the vacant District 2 seat. County Attorney Carl Boggess said that there would be no special election because the election would be held at the same time, November, 2013, when that seat would normally be up for election. The person the supervisors appoint would serve until Dec. 31, 2013.
    There was no discussion as to whether the candidate interviews would be held in open or closed session.
    District 4 Supervisor John Sharp brought up a reversion issue at the meeting’s end. Bedford’s reversion requires redistricting as the town will become part of the county. A redistricting committee has been appointed and Sharp said that the supervisors should let the committee know at the beginning whether they want to retain seven districts. Pollard thought that they should let the commission bring them options, but Sharp felt that the elected board of supervisors, rather than an appointed commission, should have that discussion.
    Sharp and District 3 Supervisor Roger Cheek noted that expanding the number of districts creates problems. If they add one more district, then it creates the potential of tie votes on an eight supervisor board.
    “The problem with eight districts is that you won’t get anything accomplished,” Cheek said.
    They noted, however, that expanding to nine districts means an extra school board member, two more planning commission members and more polling places. The board of supervisors meeting chamber would also have to be modified.
    Pollard and District 7 Supervisor Tammy Parker argued that a seven district configuration leaves the possibility that the town could be divided among three districts. That, in turn, could mean that at some point the board of supervisors could have three members residing in the town.
    “I like the eight,” Parker said. “The school board has eight.”
    County Attorney Carl Boggess pointed out that the city currently has two voting precincts. Dividing it among more than two districts would require an additional town precinct.
    The supervisors voted to retain a seven district configuration on a 4-2 vote with Sharp, Thomasson, Cheek, and Board Chairman Steve Arrington voting in favor. Pollard and Parker cast the dissenting votes.