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Another Virginia Gun Store Faces Another Angry Mob

Another Virginia Gun Store Faces Another Angry Mob

Photo credit: Andrew Rich

The cultural war over firearms ownership is raging just outside our nation’s capital, in Arlington, Va. 

There, just outside Fort Myer—home of the U.S. Army’s “Old Guard”and barely a stone’s throw from Arlington National Cemetery—residents of the Lyon Park section are seeking to block NOVA Armory from opening a gun store. 

Dennis Pratte, the would-be proprietor of NOVA Armory, recently talked to America’s 1st Freedom, and said “the pushback has been crazy.” It’s also ironic, he said, since Northern Virginia, with its alphabet soup of federal agencies—from the FBI to the CIA—“probably has more guns per capita than anywhere else in the country.” 

Never mind that despite all those scary, icky guns, and despite Northern Virginia’s relatively tame gun laws, the area is far safer than the District of Columbia, or the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C., both of which have far more restrictive anti-gun laws than Arlington. Despite the fact that these Arlington residents directly benefit from armed good guys all around them all the time, they just don’t like the idea of guns.

Unfortunately, some of Arlington’s elitists—many of whom work for those federal agencies, and all of whom benefit from having so many armed good guys in their midst—just don’t like the idea of guns

Evidently feeling bold and empowered after bullying NOVA Firearms (not affiliated with NOVA Armory) and its landlord to abandon their plan to open a gun store in Arlington’s Cherrydale neighborhood, now they’re pulling the same stunt again. 

The neighbors started an online petition at that, at this writing, has gathered over 3,300 names. (Another petition, in support of the store, has gathered about 560.) “We are alarmed to hear of these plans” to open a gun store, the petition laments, and calls on “the owner of the building and the gun shop to exercise concern for the community ... and cease any action that would allow a gun shop to occupy this space.” 

But they’ve gone even further this time: They’ve convinced their state representatives in Richmond—all Democrats—to join them in pressuring the landlord of the property not to lease it to NOVA Armory. 

Those seven Democrats—three state senators and four delegates—all co-signed a letter that paints all kinds of absurd, bizarre and nightmarish fantasies about what might happen if—gasp!—a gun store is allowed to open in Arlington, including “potentially nefarious and illegal activities such as enabling individuals to successfully obtain fraudulent Virginia driver’s licenses to purchase firearms, illegally paying Virginia residents to buy guns,” and “creating a ‘black market’ to sell firearms for cash or drugs.”

In closing their letter, those seven Arlington politicians sniffed that they “strongly encourage you to reconsider your decision to grant a lease to the NOVA Armory,” and—lest anyone doubt their fearless and unequivocal opposition to “gun violence”—they printed it under the official, state-sealed letterhead of the Commonwealth of Virginia General Assembly in Richmond, and mailed letters not just to the landlord but also to nearby business owners. 

Dennis Pratte laughed. “No pressure there,” he said. 

It’s just a shame that these politicians would raise such a stink purely for the sake of political posturing. 

The fact is, if any of Arlington’s NIMBY nabobs of negativism had bothered to investigate, NOVA Armory plans an entirely upscale, classy establishment specializing in high-dollar, engraved shotguns for hunters and skeet, trap and sporting clays shooters—“fine works of art that become family heirlooms.” The mere suggestion that it could become some blighted hangout for crack dealers and criminals is laughable. 

Nonetheless, apparently sensing the political winds, Libby Garvey, the chairwoman of the Arlington County Board, recently weighed in to register her own concerns, as well. 

Pratte says he never wanted any of this controversy and conflict. He deliberately didn’t put up signs or advertisements announcing his plans to open the store. After all, after seeing the firestorm that forced NOVA Firearms to abandon its plan to open a store in Arlington’s Cherrydale neighborhood, who would? “I didn’t want it to turn into a big shouting match.” — Dennis Pratte, NOVA Armory

Pratte went through all the paperwork and permitting—saying Arlington County officials were “a pleasure to work with and bent over backwards” to accommodate him—and everything was going smoothly until someone apparently discovered the reserved parking spaces in the store’s parking lot, which were marked “Reserved for NOVA Armory Customers.” Then all hell broke loose. 

Originally, Pratte had agreed to meet with Lyon Park residents at one of their community meetings to discuss their concerns. When travel plans conflicted with that meeting, and Pratte had to cancel, residents invited him to another later meeting—and again, Pratte agreed. But now, he says, after the letter sent by Arlington’s politicians and all the rest of the gnashing of teeth, “enough is enough”—so he canceled attending that meeting. Opponents of the store tried to make it sound like Pratte is unwilling to listen to their concerns, but as he said, “I didn’t want it to turn into a big shouting match.” 

So now, instead, Pratte is inviting all of his new neighbors to see firsthand what he plans for the store by attending an open house at NOVA Armory this Saturday, March 12. “A picture is worth a thousand words,” Pratte says. So instead of trying to explain everything about guns to a hostile audience that may be misinformed, he says, “The best way for them to see what we plan is to come and see it in person.” 

For now, NOVA Armory is scheduled to have its grand opening on March 26. And for now, Pratte hopes, he might face at worst maybe a day of protestors picketing the store at its grand opening, and that’ll be it. 

It’s just unfortunate that these Arlington residents, who are among the most garrisoned, guarded, pampered and privileged people on earth—and who directly benefit from the presence of “armed good guys” all around them all the time, whether or not they know it, and whether or not they like it—apparently have nothing better to do with their time than to launch petitions and lobby lawmakers to bully an honest, law-abiding businessman out of their community, simply because he wants to help arm the good guys who protect them. 

Consider us shocked—shocked!—at their silliness, pretense and hypocrisy.