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Blacksburg Town Council votes to ban guns from public buildings and events

Published: Jan. 12, 2021 at 7:59 PM EST
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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - Blacksburg’s town council has passed an ordinance to ban firearms in public places.

A 7-0 vote Tuesday night means firearms will not be allowed at town-held events, meetings or public buildings.

People will not be allowed to have open or concealed carried firearms with them.

The ordinance is not in response to what happened last week at the Capitol. The town says it was necessary to help events feel more family-friendly as they start to come back once we get out of the pandemic.

Steppin’ Out is Blacksburg’s largest annual celebration at the end of the summer, one that draws thousands every year. But after Tuesday’s unanimous decision by council, you will no longer be allowed to carry a firearm in or around it.

“This is something that will make our public events more pleasing, more family-friendly,” said Mayor Leslie Hager-Smith. “Personally, that’s my major concern.”

Hager-Smith said this is something residents have been asking for, but the town didn’t have the authority to do it until a measure was passed by the General Assembly last year.

During public comment, it was an issue very divided at the meeting.

“I don’t see anything positive about carrying to those events,” said Karolyn Givens.

Blacksburg Police also had extra officers on hand.

“This proposition offers no tangible benefit whatsoever to the town or its residents,” said resident Cole Harden. It only offers the likelihood of further political segregation, distrust and increased levels of stress to our fellow townsfolk.”

Other speakers were concerned with wording of the ordinance.

“Here’s a choke tube from my shotgun and a spent casing from a recent trip to the range,” said Josh Sole. “I would be in violation of this ordinance for having these in my pocket.”

You will also no longer be allowed to have firearms inside any town buildings, such as the library or municipal building. The same goes for parks and the farmer’s market.

“The events of the shooting that occurred in 2007 have cast a long shadow and I just wanted to express my appreciation for the courage of our Blacksburg Town Council for taking this on after so many years,” said Steve Gillespie.

If you violate the rule, an officer will ask you to remove the weapon and leave the building or event. If you fail to do so, Hager-Smith said you could be falling into trespassing violations, too.

“I’m willing to say that the vast majority of people who have a CCP are law-abiding citizens and they will be happy to work with us on this, just as they do the county,” Hager-Smith said.

The ordinance goes into effect March 1. To be enforceable, clear signage will be required to be posted on town buildings, parks and other locations where the ordinance will be enforced.

To learn more about the ordinance, visit Blacksburg’s town council website.

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