- The Washington Times - Friday, July 28, 2017

George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate in Virginia has sparked the ire of gun-rights activists after curators banned firearms from the historic tourist destination.

The Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, which has preserved the first president’s estate in Fairfax County for almost 160 years, told the Washington Free Beacon that the firearms ban went into effect at the start of the year, but it does not apply to law enforcement. The Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL), a pro-gun group based in Newington, is now asking supporters to contact the association and urge them to reverse the ban.

“George Washington is most certainly turning in his grave now that his beloved Mount Vernon has been turned into yet another dangerous ‘gun-free zone’ for all visitors,” VCDL President Philip Van Cleave told the Free Beacon. “It amazes me how little some know about criminal or terrorist behavior. It is not in the nature of either to obey laws, much less somebody’s ‘policy.’ This policy should be reversed as an anathema to the very rights which Washington fought to protect.”

Melissa Wood, director of media relations for the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, said armed security at the estate will provide adequate safety for visitors.

“Like most (if not all) of the area’s major tourist destinations, Mount Vernon prohibits firearms from the property,” she said. “The estate began implementing this policy on January 1, 2017. Mount Vernon employs a well-trained, armed security force that is dedicated to providing a safe environment for our guests. We do provide secure gun lockers for the storage of firearms during your visit. All qualified law enforcement professionals are permitted to bring firearms on the estate.”

According to the Free Beacon, the association told one VCDL member in an email that armed citizens could cause “dangerous confusion” in the event of an attack at the estate.

“Our decision to prohibit firearms on the estate was taken to limit risks to our visiting guests, lower guest anxiety, and to reduce any chance for dangerous confusion during a critical incident,” Cheryl Marling, director of visitor engagement at Mount Vernon, reportedly said.

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