Virginia City Bans Guns From Public Buildings (Including Gun Shows)

(AP Photo/John Locher, File)

Gun shows will be banned from Roanoke, Virginia’s Berglund Center under a new ordinance approved by the city council on Monday. It’s the latest attack on legal gun owners as a result of a law approved by anti-gun Democrats in Richmond last year allowing localities to ban guns from public buildings and permitted gatherings. A number of cities and counties have taken advantage of their new authority to implement similar gun bans, but this is the first time that a city in Virginia has included gun shows on city property as a part of their ban.


The Roanoke City Council approved the guns ban in a 6-1 vote, with Stephanie Moon-Reynolds voting no. Public comments before the vote appeared to lean in favor of seeing the city restrict guns at a time of spiking gun violence in some neighborhoods.

The ordinance took immediate effect and will be enforced once signs are posted, Bradbury said. Violation of the measure would be a misdemeanor.

At its core, the measure prohibits “the possession, carrying or transportation of firearms, ammunition or components” in buildings owed or used by the city or any governmental agency created by the city. The ban would also apply in the city’s 60 parks and on the greenway; inside recreation centers and community centers owned or operated by the city or by its governmental subunits; and at the Noel C. Taylor Municipal Building.

Roanoke has one of the higher violent crime rates in Virginia, but there’s absolutely no evidence that legal gun owners or legal gun sales are fueling the violence. Based on some of the comments by those supporting the ban, however, the move is less about fighting crime and far more about sending a message of opposition when it comes to the right to keep and bear arms.

Supporters of the ban urged action. “The more guns in the city, the more gun violence,” said a man. “No more gun shows.”

Joining the call for restriction was Andy Parker, father of a slain WDBJ journalist Alison Parker, who told the council he challenged the notion that armed citizens increase safety. “When was the last time, quote, good guys with guns stopped a bad guy?” he asked. “If it happened you’d see it in the news all the time, but it doesn’t.”


It happens all the time, actually. I report armed citizen stories on every episode of Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co, and I never have a shortage of stories to choose from. In just the past few week we’ve seen a robbery victim in Houston turn the tables on his would-be assailants, a 69-year old man in Chicago defend himself with his legally-carried gun, and an armed citizen in Atlanta help stop an armed robber from escaping after he held up a Chick-Fil-A in the city’s Midtown.

Mayor Sherman Lea recalled a mass shooting in 2019 at a Virginia Beach municipal building that he said “terrified” residents of the state. He recalled his pledge soon after to try to ensure nothing similar happened in Roanoke using an ordinance “that prohibits firearms at least coming into this building.”

Does Mayor Lea truly believe that someone with murder on their mind is going to be stopped simply because firearms are prohibited at City Hall? The mayor apparently forgets that in Virginia Beach, employees were prohibited from carrying a gun inside of city buildings, but that didn’t stop a disgruntled employee from bringing a gun inside and opening fire, killing twelve people. Instead, the policy prevented employees from defending themselves when their colleague targeted them. As FOX News reported shortly after the shooting in 2019:

The night before Kate Nixon and 11 others were murdered by a disgruntled co-worker, the decade-long Virginia Beach city employee talked with her husband about bringing a gun to work for self-defense — a decision that was taken out of her hands by the city’s ban on employees carrying firearms at work, a Nixon family lawyer said.

Now, Nixon’s family is calling for an independent investigation into events leading up to the May 31 shooting and what could have been done differently before and during it, particularly given the explicit concerns about shooter DeWayne Craddock.

“Kate expressed to her husband concerns about this individual in particular, as well as one other person,” Nixon family attorney Kevin Martingayle told WHRV’s “HearSay with Cathy Lewis” radio showMonday.  “In fact, they had a discussion the night before about whether or not she should take a pistol and hide it in her handbag — and decided not to, ultimately, because there’s a policy apparently against having any kind of weapons that are concealed in the building.”


Roanoke’s new gun ban won’t do anything to actually prevent bad actors from attacking others in supposedly gun-free zones, but it will prevent law-abiding citizens from being able to protect themselves if such an attack were to take place. In addition, the city’s ban on gun shows at the local civic center is simply an act of virtue-signaling that won’t stop criminals from obtaining firearms, but will merely impose another burden on legal gun buyers and sellers.

Virginia gun owners need to remember this in November, when we have a chance to elect a pro-Second Amendment governor and retake control of the House of Delegates in our statewide elections. While Virginia Democrats are cracking down on legal gun owners, they’re also embroiled in a scandal involving the state’s Parole Board that shows a callous indifference to the victims of violent crimes. Virginians deserve better, but it’s up to us to vote in elected officials that will focus on those committing acts of violence and not those exercising their Second Amendment rights.


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