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"Stop the Violence" discussion brings hundreds to Paradise Cathedral

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ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - What began as a community discussion about violence Monday night ultimately came back to guns.

Several families at the meeting, and even Roanoke's new Police Chief Tim Jones say they've lost people to gun violence in the city.

The consensus is there needs to be less weapons on the streets of Roanoke and other cities around the country, but the question is how to do it.

As an audience of hundreds watched, the faces of the dead and grieving rolled by.

"I've lost friends due to the violence. I got involved when some friends of mine lost their son, who also, he was my friend," said Theresa Gill-Walker, with the group Moms Demand Action.

Gill-Walker was one of the hundreds in the audience of Paradise Cathedral in Roanoke Monday night demanding change.

"It's got to end. Change has got to happen, and the only way change is going to happen is through the community and the government stepping up to the plate when it comes to guns and background checks and assault weapons," said Gill-Walker.

"People should have the right to carry guns. I'm not against the second amendment. I've got problems with these long-arm assault rifles," said Roanoke Mayor Sherman Lea.

Lea was one of those that agreed the government needs to change it's laws on the type of guns people carry, and who should have them.

"We had about 4 people that were shot several weeks ago, so it's a concern," said Lea.

One year after his daughter was shot to death, Andy Parker took the microphone as well to continue his fight for gun control.

"You can't get 90 percent of the American people to agree that Mother's Day is a good thing, but even 90 percent of Republicans think that universal background checks make sense," said Parker.

While she says it's impossible to come to a perfect solution in one evening, Gill-Walker says the show of solidarity from her community wanting to take action gives her hope.

"You have to believe in change. You have to believe that you can make a difference... every day one person can touch another person can touch another person can touch another person to stop this ugly gun violence," said Gill-Walker.

In addition to the event Monday night, Williams Memorial Church in Roanoke will be hosting a gun safety and gun violence discussion Tuesday night as well.

That begins at 6pm.