Roanoke City Council to ask for authority to ban guns at meetings

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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) Roanoke City Council will ask state lawmakers for authority to ban guns at council meetings.

City Council finalized its wish list for the 2019 General Assembly session Thursday afternoon.

Last year a General Assembly committee killed a bill that would have allowed city council to ban guns in city buildings. The latest proposal is more limited, requesting authority to prohibit firearms at places where the local governing body is meeting.

Most council meetings are quiet and routine, but some have included threatening words and disturbances that prompted police to remove people from the audience.

Council is encouraging the General Assembly to assist localities in protecting the public from gun violence.

And it's making the specific request for authority to prohibit firearms at council meetings.

Bill Bestpitch is Chair of Roanoke City Council's Legislative Committee.

"All we're really asking for is to have the same security for a city council meeting as the judges have in their courthouse, and that the schools have," Bestpitch told reporters. "You know people are not allowed to bring their guns into those locations and we think that guns should be prohibited from city council meetings for essentially the same reasons."

The legislation could have trouble getting out of committee.

Republican Delegate Chris Head said he would oppose such a measure.

"As far as I am concerned," Head wrote in a message Thursday afternoon, "the words 'the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed' mean exactly that."

Roanoke City Council will meet with members of the General Assembly who represent western Virginia on October 15th.