RICHMOND — Roanoke’s city council will remain unable to ban guns and ammunition from its chambers during meetings.
A bill proposed by state Sen. John Edwards, D-Roanoke, quickly died in the Senate Courts of Justice Committee on Wednesday.
The party-line vote was 8-6 with Republicans in the majority.
It was the second consecutive year in which Edwards’ bill regarding this issue — which came at the request of the council — didn’t make it out of the committee.
Edwards’ bill would have allowed localities an option to ban firearms from where its governing body is meeting.
It would not have banned carrying elsewhere in the municipal building.
The most recent bill’s focus was narrower than last year’s unsuccessful proposal, when the city sought the General Assembly’s permission to ban guns altogether from city hall.
Two months after city council requested this legislation, a former city employee stood before council members at a public meeting and threatened to have them shot. He was not armed.
“But they’re very concerned about people showing up at city council chambers, threatening with guns or just threatening people,” Edwards told the committee Wednesday.
Roanoke Mayor Sherman Lea said Thursday he hopes to continue to submit the legislation.
“We are disappointed that a governing body cannot protect ourselves and the public from those individuals with guns that may want to do us harm. We were asking for enabling legislation, which was not to mandate anything but give individual localities the opportunity to decide what they would do,” Lea said. “That’s why it is important to vote. I just do not understand why they will not let us protect ourselves.”
On Thursday, a bill by Del. Sam Rasoul, D-Roanoke, was defeated that would have added Roanoke, Charlottesville and Albemarle County to a list of 13 Virginia localities that prohibit open carrying of some long guns within city limits .
The bill died in a party-line vote of 4-2, also with a Republican majority, in a House Committee on Militia, Police and Public Safety subcommittee.
“The reality is that the real injustice here is the intimidation of people carrying into certain areas, especially city council chambers,” Rasoul told the subcommittee.
Another delegate brought the same bill before the General Assembly in 2017.