Prince William County has joined four neighboring localities in a revolt against the Washington Council of Governments after the organization threw its support behind controversial gun control proposals.
COG officials voted in March to support the stance of the International Association of Chiefs of Police on gun control, including a call for universal background checks and a ban on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammo magazines.
But the vote infuriated lawmakers in some of the 22 local governments that comprise COG, and now officials in Loudoun and Frederick counties and Manassas City are threatening to cut off funding to the group. Fairfax City officials expressed disapproval of the COG vote but did not threaten to stop funding the group.
With Prince William County joining the chorus of critics threatening to slash funding to the regional organization, COG could lose more than $500,000 in contributions from the localities unless it reverses itself on gun control.
"We don't expect COG to speak for us or our citizens with regard to the gun control debate," said Prince William County Chairman Corey Stewart. "The purpose of COG is to discuss and work toward attaining agreement on local issues directly affecting the national capital region, not to try and limit our Second Amendment rights."
COG's vote to support gun control is one of the most controversial decisions the board has made in its 56-year history. The organization typically handles far less divisive issues, like restoring the Potomac River, constructing the Metro system and increasing emergency preparedness.
Loudoun County officials said they're concerned that COG's "inappropriate and disrespectful" decision could prompt the organization to get more involved in national and state issues that are outside the localities' control.
"The purpose of the Council of Governments is to collaborate on challenges faced by localities unique to the Metropolitan Washington region," Scott York, chairman of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, told COG. "Gun control is not such a subject."
Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Sharon Bulova, who voted for the gun control measures, told constituents that she plans to ask COG to reconsider its vote again this month though her call for a reconsideration of the vote failed in March. If COG votes again, Bulova said she will try to get the gun control measure sent back to a committee, voiding COG's earlier decision.
"I expect it to come up and be resolved at the [next] meeting," said COG spokeswoman Jeanne Saddler.
The next COG meeting takes place April 10 at 777 North Capitol St. NE in the District.