Roanoke Gun Violence Prevention Commission discusses new ways to combat a growing issue

The commission talked about ‘Risk Orders’ and how they can be useful when it comes to preventing future gun violence incidents

ROANOKE, Va. – The Roanoke Gun Violence Prevention Commission met once again to discuss different ways to address the growing amount of gun violence in the city.

Chairman and City Councilman Joe Cobb said the city understands the growing issue.

“We’re not denying the uptick. We’re very realistic in what we’re seeing and what we’re hearing,” Cobb said.

One of the areas the commission focuses on is the relationship with the community. More importantly, they want the community to know of the resources available when it comes to mental health and other areas of concern.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the commission heard from Lisa Hass who works as the Advocacy Manager at John Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions.

Haas’ daughter was wounded during the 2007 Virginia Tech Massacre. Since the day of the shooting, Haas has made it a mission to fight against gun violence throughout the Commonwealth.

One thing Haas brought to the table was ‘Risk Orders,’ which are ordered by the court to disarm individuals who may not be diagnosed with a mental health issue but are going through some sort of crisis. By having access to a gun, these individuals could put themselves or others in harm’s way.

“The risk order is the tool for law enforcement to intervene and temporarily disarm a person so that he or she can get the help they need and solve the crisis and then get their firearm back at the end of the order,” Haas said.

Roanoke City has only used this tool two times since the law was passed in 2020.

Haas said a lot of communities don’t about ‘Risk Orders’ and how they can help many incidents from unfolding.

“I think knowledge of the law and how it’s applied where it’s appropriate and how to use it has not been as forthcoming and as available,” Haas said.

While the numbers do show an uptick in the amount of gun-related crimes in the city, the commission does want to show how the relationship in the community needs to be better.

“We’re going to see some of that quantitative data over time but what’s really going to make the difference is the qualitative data. The relationship-based work that is transforming people’s lives and leading them away from a pathway of violence to a pathway of opportunity,” Cobb said.

In the coming months, the commission is going to try to get churches and schools more involved. They believe these institutions play a big role in helping kids in the area stay out of trouble.

About the Author

Connor Dietrich joined the 10 News team in June 2022. Originally from Castle Rock, Colorado, he's ready to step away from the Rockies and step into the Blue Ridge scenery.

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