RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Firearms are banned at or adjacent to permitted events in Richmond, city council members unanimously approved Tuesday.
Citizens shared their opinions through public comment. Many strongly opposed the ban, noting they wanted to feel protected no matter their location. A Scott’s Addition resident said he felt he was being evicted from his home, saying he would need to be move because he always carries a gun on him in the neighborhood.
During a city council meeting on Aug. 10, Mayor Levar Stoney and his administration introduced an ordinance to modify current Richmond City Code section 19-334.1; Carrying Firearms in Certain Places.
The mayor proposed and council approved to ban firearms in city parks and government buildings in 2019.
Now, guns are prohibited in the possession, carrying, or transportation of any firearms in any public street, road, alley, sidewalk, public right-of-way, or any open public space when it is being used by, or is adjacent to, an event that requires a city permit.
“The City of Richmond proudly hosts hundreds of public events each year, but I believe it’s in the interest of everyone’s safety to take guns out of these spaces when neighbors, visitors and families gather,” Stoney said. “Under this proposed change, Richmond residents will be able to attend public events with a greater sense of security, knowing that the city is actively prioritizing their safety.”
The recent proposed change was also made possible by a recent amendment by the Virginia General Assembly to the Code of Virginia, which authorizes localities to prohibit firearms in this instance.
Mayor Levar Stoney says the expansion to the existing ordinance intends to promote the health and safety of event attendees and city residents as a whole.
“As a city, we must exhaust all possible options to reduce gun violence in our communities and neighborhoods,” Stoney said. “I’m thankful the state has finally given us a vital tool in building a safer Richmond.”
The new measure does not apply to authorized military personnel in the performance of their lawful duties, law enforcement officers or security guards contracted or employed by the City of Richmond.
While the city council’s vote was unanimous, Councilman Andreas Addison did raise questions in terms of enforcement.
“I saw some differences in terms of how is this going to be applied when an event might not be scheduled and if I don’t know an event is scheduled and I have my second amendment ability to have a firearm, if I leave my home with that firearm, am I violating that protest?” asked Addison. “Am I going to be found in violation of this new law?”
Councilman Mike Jones calls the approved ordinance a common-sense gun law and believes it is a way to keep Richmonders safe.
“It’s going after individuals that are looking to do harm,” Jones said. “Individuals that are willing to just carry around a gun to try to intimidate. This isn’t for the average gun owner in this county. And I’m a gun owner and I don’t feel that my rights are being impeded upon.”
Some council members believe the new ban will help prevent armed counter-protesters from making others feel unsafe during peaceful assemblies.
“That’s not allowed,” Addison said. “And that’s not part of the spirit of what we’re trying to go through which is identifying the needs we need to address to make our city more equitable, inclusive, and diverse.”
Sierra Fox will have more on this story on 8News at 11 p.m.