RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney is introducing an ordinance to ban firearms in city-owned buildings and parks, which would go into effect if the Virginia General Assembly takes action.
Stoney said he’s “heartbroken and ready to take action on gun violence in our city” after the shooting death of 9-year-old Markiya Simone Dickson in a Richmond park, and the deaths of 12 people in Virginia Beach.
The Virginia General Assembly would have to pass a bill allowing localities the power to ban guns on city property. Currently, it is legal to walk into City Hall with a gun, if you have a permit.
The General Assembly will hold a special session in July on what Stoney called “common sense” gun laws. If legislators pass laws allowing localities to take more control, Stoney said Richmond will be in a position to act immediately on a gun ban at city facilities.
"This is common sense, and it’s long overdue,” Stoney said. “I am sick and tired of spineless leadership out of the General Assembly. If they are not willing to (pass gun laws), then at least give local governments the authority to safeguard their communities. Simply put, move out of the way because localities like ours, are ready to act.”
Richmond City Council is holding a special meeting at 5 p.m. Monday, July 1 to discuss Stoney’s proposals.
Richmond Councilman Mike Jones introduced an expedited resolution on June 25 to install metal detectors at City Hall, regardless of whether Stoney’s gun ban goes through.
Currently, City Hall has armed guards around the clock, but people coming and going aren't generally searched.
"In a controlled space like City Hall, it’s important to know if someone has a gun,” Jones said.
Gun rights advocates have long said that if the wrong person wants to get their hands on a weapon and cause harm, they will find a way, regardless of laws.
“The zero gun tolerance zones have just created an area where the criminal is perfectly at ease,” Bob Moates Sports Shop manager Richard Hill said. “There’s nobody who is going to stop him. There’s nobody armed.”
Hill said people waiting in line at a metal detector could actually be a prime target for a crazed shooter.
“It’s the people who are armed who are less likely to be standing there and just shot down like a herd of sheep,” Hill said. "(Gun control advocates) keep trying to politicize more events. They keep trying to pass more laws. A criminal by definition doesn’t pay any attention to the law.”
Richmond’s current policy is that employees are not allowed to bring weapons into the building.
“I don’t think the answer to gun violence is more guns,” Stoney said. “The answer to gun violence is common sense laws and policies.”
In a statement, Dr. Chris Kopacki, the Virginia state director of the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action, called the proposal a misdirection.
“Mayor Levar Stoney is using this as a publicity stunt to distract from his failing administration. Richmond is reporting more homicides so far this year compared to last year. That’s because Stoney has let gangs and drug dealers continue to run parts of the city," Kopacki’s statement. "When the idea of Project Exile was brought to his attention, he had no interest in being tougher on criminals who commit crimes with firearms. The policies he’s proposing failed in Virginia Beach because good people weren’t allowed to defend themselves from a criminal who ignored the gun free zone policy.”
The Virginia Beach City Council failed to pass a resolution supporting legislation to allow localities to ban guns on city property last week.
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