ROANOKE, Va. – Roanoke City Council pulled the trigger on a gun ban on Monday night, coving all city-owned property, including buildings, the Berglund Center, parks, recreation centers, and greenways.
The controversial decision has locals and businesses split.
“It makes me feel much safer. It’s much needed,” said Roanoker Chris Kessler.
“I think it’s wrong. It’s against our rights,” said Randy Creed, a salesman at Bryansteens Gun & Archery.
Kessler said he’s not against people buying and owning guns, but he believes there is a time and a place to carry them and it’s not in public.
“I’m not convinced that I need to carry a gun to feel safe,” said Kessler.
But for local gun shops like Bryansteens Gun & Archery, Creed said the ban means they could miss out on thousands of customers driven into the area by gun shows at the Berglund Center.
“They bring people in from all over the state. They come here too and to other gun shops to see if they can find stuff they couldn’t find at the gun shows,” said Creed.
The Berglund Center will no longer be able to host four annual gun shows, which could cost the center $100,000 that would have gone towards its operating budget.
Ultimately, that expense falls on the city. The city is looking at holding other events to make up the difference.
Nevertheless, retired Roanoke City Attorney Dan Callaghan supports the move.
“It’s something that just isn’t a dollars and cents issue,” said Callaghan.
However, Creed said there’s a much larger economic impact to consider.
“The gas that they buy when they come into the city and the food that they get while they’re here,” said Creed. “It helps our economy too. It’s all a part of it.”
The ban is effective immediately but won’t be enforced until the city can put up signs to inform the public about the new ordinance.
Violations could result in a Class I misdemeanor charge, which could carry jail time, fines or both.