Roanoke mayor pushes for gun law change after Virginia Beach shooting

Virginia localities are required to allow firearms inside municipal buildings

By Taj Simmons - Reporter

ROANOKE, Va. - Roanoke Mayor Sherman Lea says Virginians aren't safe in municipal buildings with Virginia's current gun laws.

"I could come in here, and someone could say, 'Mayor, you pissed me off because of what you did the other day,'" Lea said. "People's minds are mixed up."

Lea says Friday's deadly shooting inside a Virginia Beach municipal building should be a call to action for state lawmakers. Virginia law prevents municipalities from passing laws banning guns in municipal buildings, but Lea hopes lawmakers rethink that portion of the law.

"When you come in to do business here, you don't need a gun," Lea said. "I think some more could be done."

Lea has been to Richmond several times to advocate for bills to give cities the choice to restrict weapons in city halls and council chambers. He went this year after someone threatened to shoot him and council members during a December City Council meeting.

"You come up to council chambers while we make decisions that affect people's lives, yet you can come in with an AK rifle," Lea said. "The door says no food or drink allowed in here. How about no guns?"

Those bills all failed, but Lea is pleading with lawmakers to give gun control another chance.

"It seems as though we're getting immune," Lea said. "We bury, mourn and come right back. We've got to do more than just say, 'I'm sorry and I'm going to pray for you.' That's a good thing, but we've got to do more than that."

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