In the Tuesday meeting, Councilmember Susan Anderson said she was on campus during the 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. “After I walked home later that day, I remember asking my husband, ‘What am I supposed to do?'”
Anderson said she’d heard many comments from members of the public, including over 200 comments opposing the ban. She said the majority of those opposing the ban were from outside Blacksburg. She also said that she thought a majority of Blacksburg residents supported the ban.
Anderson said that many people expressed a feeling of fear.
“This feeling of fear has been dominant in many many messages to me. People feeling fear at seeing a stranger’s weapon, as well as people feeling fear if they cannot carry their own weapon,” she said. “Fear is dividing us. It is important for our residents not only to be safe, but to feel safe.”
Community member Josh Sole spoke during a public hearing and expressed concern over specific language in the resolution banning firearms parts, leaving increased security optional, and having a ban in public places enforced by signs.
Sole pulled some items from his pocket.
“Here’s a choke tube from my shotgun and a spent casing from a recent trip to the range, and I would be in violation of this ordinance for having these in my pocket which are things that any hunter or shooting sportsman might have in their pocket,” he said. “Neither of those items pose any risk to the public though, so the wording there should be revisited and addressed before we try to pass this ordnance.”
Sole said that if firearms are banned on city property, metal detectors and increased security should be mandated to protect the public.
Sole said, “I understand that some people get uncomfortable when they see someone with a gun on their hip as state law currently allows in the state of Virginia. And I understand that the town council wants everyone to feel comfortable going to these public events. However, there’s many people, especially those who have lived in Blacksburg since 2007 who have become hyper vigilant when it comes to gun violence.”
Community member Steve Gillespie thanked Blacksburg for bringing the ordinance. “I just wanted to express my appreciation for the courage of our Blacksburg Town Council for taking this on after so long,” he said.
In December, Blacksburg Town Council member John Bush told The Virginia Star that he would support the resolution in a vote.
“I think [the ordinance] is the right thing for our town,” he said. “And I do think that from my general understanding of the people that live here and the feedback and communication that I have received our town citizens will support this.”
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