The Roanoke City Council passed a firearms and ammunition ban for its buildings and parks in a six-to-one vote on Monday night. Council Member Stephanie Moon Reynolds voted against the ordinance, objecting to the portion that bans firearms in parks.
“I can understand not permitting weapons in public buildings, such as city hall, libraries, rec centers, court facilities and schools since we have or are able to put the necessary technology and law enforcement personnel in place to protect our employees and the public in these settings,” Moon Reynolds told the council.
“However, I do not believe we can be as solid in our belief relative to ensuring the safety of those who choose to utilize our parks, the greenways, the trails, or other open spaces that are considered recreational in nature,” Moon Reynolds said.
43 people signed up to speak at the Monday evening meeting, including former candidate for City Council Maynard Keller.
“Where is the data that shows the effectiveness of a gun-free zone,” Keller asked. “Over 90 percent of all mass shootings take place in gun free zones. Mass shooters may be crazy but they’re not stupid. They go where people are the least likely to shoot back.”
Separately, the council also voted to establish a permanent Gun Violence Prevention Commission. In 2019, the city established a temporary Task Force to Reduce Gun Violence that was later renamed the Study Committee to Reduce Gun Violence. A 2020 report shows 51 incidents of gun shot wounds, including 10 gun homicides.
Council Member Joe Cobb said in the meeting, “The work of this commission is to continue both the work of the task force with its original recommendations and the study committee into turning those recommendations into actionable plans.”
Cobb said the plans focused particularly on males aged 18-28 based on data from the task force and the study committee. He said that although there are prevention and intervention resources for teens, many of those programs end at age 18.
“So that’s the focus of this. Prevention is the key,” Cobb said, and suggested that it could take five to 10 years before there were significant results.
He said, “There’s not a quick fix for this.”
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