In May, we shared the story of NOVA Firearms, a small gun store located in Northern Virginia, and the anti-gun opposition the owner encountered while trying to expand his business. As prejudiced as the then-apparent actions of the Northern Virginia anti-gun community were, a new report from the Washington Times implicating the involvement of several Virginia lawmakers in a campaign to further obstruct NOVA Firearms adds another repugnant layer to this already sordid episode.
The initial dispute arose after Marine veteran and NOVA Firearms owner James Gates contracted for retail space located in the well-heeled Cherrydale neighborhood of Arlington, Va. At the time, Gates was already operating a NOVA Firearms location in McLean, Va. without incident.
When some members of the Cherrydale community learned about Gates’ plans, they launched a campaign against the store. After a failed attempt to get Arlington County officials to further scrutinize the business, the anti-gun residents shifted their focus to pressuring Gates’ landlord, Kosta Kapasouris, to break the lease. Eventually NOVA Firearms and Kapasouris agreed to cancel the lease.
After failing to open the new location in Arlington, Gates relocated his existing McLean store to another nearby location in McLean. Once again, anti-gun residents organized to oppose the store. Just like the Arlington campaign, the anti-gun community veiled their prejudice with supposed concern about the store’s proximity to a school.
This week, the Washington Times reported that a cadre of Virginia politicians had a hand in the campaign against NOVA Firearms. According to the Times, “Delegate Kathleen Murphy, McLean Democrat, wrote an email to state Sen. Barbara Favola, Arlington Democrat, seeking help in shutting down the gun store,” as, “Ms. Favola was instrumental in organizing opposition to Mr. Gates' shop in Arlington.” Favola responded to Murphy with her thoughts on tactics, and according to the article, “Ms. Murphy forwarded that email Sept. 25 to other Democrats in her district, including Fairfax County Supervisor John Foust… saying, ‘Lets do it.’”
A small protest was held when the new location opened on September 26, but in an interview with the Times, Gates did not appear concerned. Gates stated, “We're not leaving, and our new landlords are backing us 100 percent… Our customers who live in the area have asked us not to back down and stay, and a lot of our customers are from McLean.” Further, the protest seems to have backfired, with Gates noting, “to be honest, that helped us more than it hurt us… [The protesters] put us on the map. I have people statewide, in Maryland, Pennsylvania, D.C., all the way down to Florida, saying they saw us on the news and want to support us. Business is good.”
The entire episode illustrates why NRA puts an emphasis on enacting and protecting firearms preemption statutes throughout the country. The ignorance of some members of a small community or the machinations of a handful of petty politicians should never be permitted to override the exercise of a Constitutional right. We wish Gates success in his endeavor and hope that this is his last encounter with the more close-minded residents of Northern Virginia.