Richmond City Council unanimously passes Stoney’s gun-control measure

Updated: Sep. 8, 2020 at 11:21 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Richmond City Council unanimously passed Mayor Levar Stoney’s proposed amendment to a gun-control measure.

The ordinance, which was introduced in August, will “prohibit 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 ordinance does not broadly ban firearms but rather prohibits them when an event that is permitted or should be permitted is nearby, the Stoney administration previously said.

“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,” said Stoney previously 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.”

In 2019, Stoney proposed the ordinance banning firearms from being carried in city-owned and -operated parks and facilities. When the General Assembly gave localities the power to adopt the legislation, it went into effect.

“I just think that if you’re going to a public event, you should be able to go there and enjoy yourself, go there for your cause, and not feel under constant threat because of individuals walking around with an AK-47,” Stoney said previously.

There were some questions asked in the meeting on Aug. 20 about guns not being allowed “adjacent” to events. The mayor clarified that saying sometimes when there’s a protest or rally, there are counter-protesters who may bring weapons.

The ordinance 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.”

During the meeting, Police Chief Gerald Smith said private gun-owning citizens who have homes where protests are taking place outside of would be exempt from the ordinance, but 2nd District council member Kim Gray says the law the language of the law doesn’t specifically say that.

“The actual language of the law does not provide an exemption so if I’m stepping on to the sidewalk to get into my car, then I’m potentially in violation of that rule if there is a protest adjacent to that public right of way,” said Gray. “I think the real answers in that prevention lie in leveraging our community leaders.”

Though not specifically written into the law, council members requested that there be a 60 review of the ordinance to investigate its effectiveness.

The new measure is effective immediately.

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