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Roanoke mayor: City will not adopt gun sanctuary status, despite passionate arguments from gun-rights supporters

People on both sides spoke in a packed room Monday

ROANOKE, Va. – There were outbursts and tense moments in Monday’s Roanoke City Council meeting as dozens of gun-rights supporters packed the chamber.

At issue was the topic of Second Amendment sanctuary status, which many local counties have already adopted, to pledge to oppose potential new gun laws in Virginia.

Ultimately, Roanoke Mayor Sherman Lea said the city will not be adopting the proposal. He said he sees no reason for the council to take any action on it, adding that the city will continue to follow all laws.

His remarks came after gun-rights supporters made a passionate case.

The outbursts started in the morning session when one gun-rights supporter, before leaving the room, stood up and shouted his opposition to gun-free zones, an idea which city council has backed for government buildings.

In the afternoon, nearly every seat was filled, and many stood in the back, for the public comment period.

Gun-control advocates pushed for more reform.

“I don’t feel more comfortable when I see guns at the grocery store,” said Catherine Koebel, with Roanoke Indivisible.

However, gun rights supporters were the overwhelming majority, with more than 50 people showing up, some with orange stickers that said, "Guns save lives.”

Many spoke, including former Roanoke police officer James Dickinson.

“I implore you to allow people to keep weapons to defend themselves and keep themselves alive while I’m rushing to save them,” Dickinson said.

Local business owner Charles Hutsell also commented.

“We are not extremists. We are citizens who believe in the Second Amendment as well as the rest of the constitution,” Hutsell said.

Other Roanoke residents stated their opinions as well.

“We are sickened by the proposals of our socialist government in Richmond, wanting to impose unconstitutional laws, infringing upon the rights of citizens to own firearms,” one man said.

There are no Republicans on City Council. The body has supported gun control measures in the past, including asking the General Assembly to give it the ability to bar guns from city council chambers.