Gun control divides the D.C. region. That was evident when the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments passed a resolution calling for tougher restrictions and several of its member localities threatened to cut off COG's funding because of it.
COG in March announced its support for universal background checks for gun buyers, a ban on assault weapons and limits on ammunition magazines. These were the same restrictions that the Fraternal Order of Police's national organization endorsed, COG officials noted.
But Loudoun, Prince William and Frederick counties and the City of Manassas, areas where guns remain popular, all complained and threatened to cut off more than $500,000 in funding. The regional board had overstepped its bounds by taking on federal issues, they complained. COG officials immediately began backtracking on their support for gun control and are expected to reverse it at a meeting Wednesday.
Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Sharon Bulova, who initially voted to back the gun control measure, is expected to ask council members to take back their votes and instead share their individual opinions with state and federal legislators.
"The Council of Governments often deals with public safety issues," Bulova said in a letter to constituents. "It cannot, however, mandate changes in local, state or federal law."
COG's vote on gun control is one of the most controversial decisions the organization has made in its 56-year history. The 22 local governments that participate in COG typically work on issues in which they have a shared concern, such as Potomac River cleanups and construction of Metro projects.
Wednesday's meeting is seen as an opportunity to reassess COG's controversial action and reunite members, said Fairfax City Mayor Scott Silverthorne, who did not threaten to withdraw funding but did express concern about the vote.
"We do not believe that COG should be in the gun control debate," Silverthorne said. "We're trying to bring people together, not divide them. We should put this aside and focus on areas of common ground."
Wednesday's COG meeting begins at noon at 777 North Capitol St. NE.