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Richmond City Council Votes To Ban Guns In Municipal Buildings, Parks

Richmond Police Chief Will Smith speaking at a recent Richmond City Council meeting.
Richmond Police Chief Will Smith speaking at a recent Richmond City Council meeting. Crixell Matthews/WCVE

Richmond City Council has approved an ordinance banning guns from city buildings and parks. 

The ordinance was introduced by Mayor Levar Stoney at a press conference last week and was fast-tracked to a vote before the state legislature meets for a special session on gun control July 9. Stoney said the proposal was a response to two incidents in May: the mass shooting in Virginia Beach and the shooting death of 9-year-old Markiya Dickson in a Richmond park. The proposal passed 7-0-2 with Council Members Kristen Larson and Reva Trammell abstaining.

Richmond Police Chief Will Smith presented the proposal in the Mayor’s absence. He said the gun ban would help provide another layer of security.

“We are somewhat behind the times in that we are a very open, easily accessible administration,” Smith said. “We really should take a view of what the modern threat is within the workplace, within doing business in public.”

Smith said the city was currently drafting a comprehensive security strategy that will be presented to City Council within 30 days. He said that strategy changes will include details on the cost of installing metal detectors at every entrance to City Hall. Councilman Michael Jones currently has a paper in support of metal detectors that is working its way through Council. 

Only half dozen residents spoke on the gun ban at Monday night’s meeting, with members of Mothers Demand Action speaking in favor of the proposal.

Robert Sadtler, a Southside resident and lobbyist with the gun rights group Virginia Citizens Defense League, said he doesn’t think banning guns from parks would have prevented the death of Markiya Dickson.

“Animals are going to wreak havoc where they will, at will,” Sadtler said. “All this bill is going to do is leave people helpless.”

Under current Virginia law, cities cannot restrict firearms and ammunition. Richmond would need the state legislators to change the law in order for the ordinance to actually take effect.

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