Favorite

Council’s Rules: Popcorn? No! Firearms? Yes! 

click to enlarge Pop Quiz: Which one of these is allowed in Council chambers?
  • Pop Quiz: Which one of these is allowed in Council chambers?

A ban on food, drink and in particular applause is strictly enforced at City Council meetings. Less often discussed is what's allowed, such as handguns.

That's right, clap your hands in support of a fiery speech and you can expect a firm talking-to from the City Council president. Bring in some popcorn and soda and you might get a tap on the shoulder and shown the door. But under state law, anyone who isn't a felon can carry a gun or other weapon into City Council chambers.

That's exactly what Richmond resident Chris Dorsey, a frequent presence at council meetings, did last Monday. Carrying a small handgun in a holster at this side, Dorsey fidgeted in his seat, getting up several times to walk to the back of chambers. He eventually addressed council members during the public hearing on the Redskins deal. He opposes it with a passion.

That he was carrying a handgun startled a television reporter, who did a double-take and gave nearby police officers a sidelong glance when Dorsey walked by.

But a gun is allowed at council meetings as long as it isn't concealed or brandished in threatening way, City Council spokesman Steven Skinner confirms. Likewise, swords, nunchucks and other miscellaneous weapons also are permissible under state and local laws. Switchblades, throwing stars and brass knuckles are illegal in Virginia and thus not permissible in chambers.

It isn't uncommon for people to openly carry handguns into meetings, council members say. And while they might not all be comfortable with it, they recognize it's a state law that's unlikely to change.

"God knows how many people have walked in with guns," 1st District Councilman Bruce Tyler says. "We don't have any choice — we're in Virginia, and that ain't changing."

Favorite

Latest in News and Features

Comments (16)

Showing 1-16 of 16

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-16 of 16

Add a comment

More by Ned Oliver

Connect with Style Weekly

Most Popular Stories

  • Cars, Horses and Children

    Cars, Horses and Children

    A Valentine exhibition uses the work of amateur photographer Edith Shelton to shine a light on Richmond neighborhoods of the ’50s through the ’70s.
    • Jan 19, 2021
  • Cajun Adventures

    Cajun Adventures

    Former Richmonder Ann Savoy publishes her second major work about Cajun, Creole and zydeco music.
    • Jan 12, 2021
  • Rehabbing Big Brown

    Rehabbing Big Brown

    Our architecture critic looks at why to rehab the existing Richmond Coliseum and make it a centerpiece for redevelopment.
    • Jan 12, 2021
  • Richmonder of the Year

    Richmonder of the Year

    After a global pandemic stopped everything, Dr. Danny TK Avula was the right person at the right time.
    • Dec 29, 2020
  • More »

Copyright © 2021 Style Weekly
Richmond's alternative for news, arts, culture and opinion
All rights reserved
Powered by Foundation