Richmond City Council symbolically votes to ban guns in government buildings, parks

City council votes symbolically on gun ban

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The Richmond City Council symbolically voted to ban guns in government buildings and parks.

“I am tired sick and tired of spineless leadership out of the General Assembly,” Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said.

It was a strong call for action by Stoney. Eight days ago, Stoney announced his proposal to ban guns from city buildings and parks.

“At least give local governments the authority to safeguard their communities. Simply put, move out the way because localities, like ours, are ready to act,” Stoney said.

Before the law can take effect, the state’s General Assembly must approve localities taking this kind of authority.

“We are somewhat behind the times in that we are an open easily accessible administration,” Richmond Police Chief William Smith said.

In a special meeting, newly appointed Smith officially presented the ordinance before council Monday.

“We have had nine other incidents that have occurred in or near Richmond city parks,” Smith said.

Who could forget 9-year-old Markiya Dickson, who was shot and killed while at a community event in a Richmond park.

This would also ban guns from city buildings.

“People have a right to come in and conduct their business without the fear of being injured by an illegally carried fire arm,” Smith said.

“All this bill is going to do is leave people helpless,” Robert Sadler said.

“We have to be proactive and not reactive. We can not be Virginia Beach,” another man said while voicing support for the ordinance.

Richmond residents got a chance to voice their thoughts on the proposal, and so did city council members.

“Where is the mayor? Where is the mayor!?” District Eight Councilwoman Reva Trammell said.

Trammell wanted to push the vote to a September meeting, she says residents needed more time to voice concern and Stoney is needed to answer questions.

“I have 26,000 people in my district and they should have a voice. They should be able to speak about this,” Trammell said.

In the end, seven council members voted to approve the ordinance, two members abstained.

The state’s General Assembly would have to approve localities taking this kind of authority, and a vote on the matter is expected during a special session on gun laws on July 9.

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney issued the following statement:

"Tonight the City of Richmond sent a strong message to the Virginia General Assembly that it stands ready and willing to immediately implement the kind of common sense gun regulations that will enhance the safety and security of residents, employees and visitors to our city government offices and parks.

Every Richmonder has the right to feel secure and free from the fear of senseless gun violence in our city’s public spaces.

While I am disappointed this was not a unanimous vote, I applaud and thank the seven members of Richmond City Council who demonstrated leadership in their support for Ordinance 2019-165.

Now it’s time to take this momentum across the street and hold our commonwealth’s elected representatives accountable for protecting our children and families. Leaders in the City of Richmond proved tonight they have the spine to act. Now the ball is in the General Assembly’s court.”

Copyright 2019 WWBT. All rights reserved.