The Democrat-controlled council voted 6-1 in favor of the ban.
The Berglund Center, which normally hosts multiple gun shows a year, in addition to other big events, will still be allowed to host firearms expos that have already been contracted, according to the Roanoke Times, but the ban otherwise goes into effect immediately.
Only Councilwoman Stephanie Moon-Reynolds, who was elected as an independent after failing to secure a Democratic nomination last year, voted against it. She told the paper that her objection was over the ban including the city’s parks.
The center alone said it expects to lose around $100,000 annually due to the loss of gun show revenue. And other smalls businesses could also see a hit to their bottom lines.
Wren Williams, a conservative attorney in nearby Patrick County and candidate for Virginia’s House of Delegates, told Fox News Tuesday that the ban will hurt business owners in the city without the gun shows attracting visitors from across the region.
“I think that the Berglund center and these gun shows, they’re huge drivers, tourism drivers, visitor drivers, this whole area, this entire southwestern Virginia is a very car-centric area, and we might drive an hour to eat and shop,” he said. “Small businesses are gonna be harmed by them putting a quash on these shows.”
Virginia House of Delegates candidate Wren Williams on a hunting trip in an undated photo.
(Courtesy: Wren Williams)
He accused liberals in the state’s capital, Richmond, of “emboldening” local municipalities to enact new gun control measures in what had been for many years a state friendly to Second Amendment rights.
Last year, the state’s Democratic-controlled Legislature moved to allow local governments to enact their own restrictions following the 2019 mass shooting at a Virginia Beach government building that killed 12 and injured four.
Roanoke resident Caitlyn Waddell was among dozens of voters who spoke on the issue during a virtual council meeting ahead of the vote, which was livestreamed on the city’s Facebook page.
She warned that the ban would embolden criminals and allow them to seek out victims “with confidence” that they would not be met by law-abiding, concealed-carry gun owners.
“Criminals who have hate in their hearts and the desire to cause harm will continue to break laws, including gun-free zone laws, and they will enter into gun-free zones with confidence and potentially cause tremendous harm before they’re stopped by the police,” she said. “This ordinance is going ot only accomplish a false sense of security.”
Speaking in favor of the ban was Andy Parker – whose daughter Alison, a local news reporter in Roanoke, was shot and killed by a disgruntled former colleague during a live, on-air interview in 2015. The gunman also killed Adam Ward, a photojournalist working with Parker, and injured the interviewee.
“When was the last time, quote, good guys with guns stopped a bad guy?” he asked. “If it happened you’d see it in the news all the time, but it doesn’t.”
It does happen, as Fox News has reported, including late last month when armed citizens halted a shooting spree at a Louisiana gun outlet where a gunman shot at least four people, two of them fatally. He was also shot and killed before police arrived at the scene, and authorities said the armed citizens had prevented further loss of life.
Waddell had argued that a firearm and proper training could make a woman safer when confronted by someone physically larger and stronger.
“As a woman, I can attest that having the ability to carry a firearm for my personal protection during the daily activity like walking on the Greenway is empowering and gives me the peace of mind that I am in control of my safety,” she said.
Williams, who is also an attorney representing domestic violence survivors, echoed that sentiment. He said some of his clients, who lawfully carry out of concerns for their own safety and that of their children, would be threatened in public spaces under the ban.
“Now they might not go, because it’s another point where once they were confident in themselves, but now they feel like, ‘I can’t go into this public park,’” he said. “It’s very troublesome to me, obviously, that the Roanoke City Council thinks that they know better than the Founders of our country.”
The Roanoke Valley Gun Show, scheduled for Saturday, is expected to go on. Members of the National Rifle Association can receive free admission.