Richmond council signs off on gun ban with some specific wording. Some groups will be exempt, due to their professions.
RICHMOND-Anyone going to a protest, concert or any other event in Richmond have to leave their guns at home now. By a unanimous vote Tuesday night, the Richmond City Council banned all guns from certain events.
Specifically, the new ordinance prohibits 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.” To be clear, all events happening on public property or even those that will impact public property have to get a permit. That includes protests, outdoor concerts, farmers’ markets and festivals, if we’re looking further down the road. Now there’s a part in the ordinance wording people might miss, but it’s equally as important. The ordinance calls for a ban in places “adjacent to” local events. That means alleys, sidewalks, streets and any other public right of way. If there’s a protest downtown and you’re in a nearby area at a counter-protest, guns still have to be left at home.
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney proposed the idea at the council’s last meeting in August. The concept as he presented it was to take guns out of the equation when it comes to passionate groups of protestors.
“There is no excuse to brandish a deadly weapon just to prove a point,” Stoney wrote on Twitter prior to Tuesday’s vote. “Guns and large gatherings don’t mix. This ordinance will make our city safer.”
City Looks to Move Forward
Now there are some exemptions to the ordinance. For example, any “authorized military personnel in the performance of their lawful duties, law enforcement officers or security guards contracted or employed by the city” don’t fall under the law. They can still carry guns. Also, someone who lives near an area where a protest is happening would be allowed to keep guns in their home. Council members and police officials differed, however, about if those homeowners could carry guns outside during a protest. Police officials said those local homeowners could still carry guns while going to their car. Council members opposed that idea but couldn’t settle the argument. Instead, the council agreed to a 60-day review of the ordinance, to see what works and what might need to be changed.
That’s why the ordinance didn’t pass during the Aug. 20 meeting where Mayor Stoney proposed it. Council members tabled it over some concerns about the wording. They wondered how the city would monitor, let alone enforce, a ban “adjacent” to events. The mayor explained that was mainly focused on counter-protestors. If there is a Black Lives Matter protest in downtown and a group sets up nearby to oppose it, both sides have to be gun free. Council members were also concerned about getting the word out before these events take place. To solve that, the city’s police department will post flyers and remind residents of the ban on social media in the days leading up to any big events