ROANOKE, Va. – As the debate over gun rights continues in Virginia, many people in Roanoke continued to react to Monday’s loud and outburst-filled city council meetings.
Roanoke became the first city in Virginia to discuss and reject the idea of a 2nd Amendment sanctuary status, which would have been a pledge to stand up against new gun laws.
The city of Roanoke, whose city council does not include any Republicans, saw a passionate debate unfold in its public comment period Monday, but Mayor Sherman Lea rejected the request from gun-rights supporters, saying the city is not unfairly limiting gun owners.
“The city has no authority to infringe upon these constitutional guarantees and does not seek to do so,” Lea said Monday.
Roanoke City Republican Committee Chair Charlie Nave said it was a great turnout for gun-rights supporters, and the party expects to have candidates running in the next city council election.
“It was a little bit unsatisfying because Mayor Lea just purposefully ignored the many ways his own provisions and the many bills out there would just outright ban a whole lot of guns,” Nave said. “They would erect a complicated welter of obscure and technical laws, and that’s going to trip up honest citizens and infringe upon their rights to protect themselves and their family.”
Democratic activist Catherine Koebel, with the group Roanoke Indivisible, called the position of gun-rights supporters extremist and said that many other Republicans are warming up to ideas like universal background checks.
“You can tell they don’t represent the city,” Koebel said. “Now, do they represent a constituency in the city that can be motivated? Sure.”
Responding to one concern from those backing a Second Amendment sanctuary, she said she does not think a so-called assault weapons ban would lead to officers going door to door and taking away guns.
“It is unlikely that those people are going to be turned into quote, ‘criminals,’ overnight,” she said. “We’re the side of the aisle that’s into criminal justice reform and scaling back on stop and frisk and no-knock raids.”
A Roanoke city police spokesperson said Tuesday that there’s nothing for the department to comment on because there have been no policy changes.
A new Roanoke College poll released Tuesday showed there’s support in Virginia for some gun control measures.
84% support universal background checks, 76% support red flag laws and 57% are in favor of an assault weapons ban.
The poll was conducted last month and included interviews of more than 600 Virginia residents.