‘We must respond’: Charlottesville mayor wants ability to ban open carry at public events

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WRIC) — In response to the ‘horrific events’ that took place in Charlottesville last weekend, Mayor Mike Signer is calling for the Rober E. Lee statue to be removed from Emancipation Park.

Signer also wants to change gun laws and is seeking ideas for ways to memorialize the counter-protester who was killed.

In an open letter to city residents issued Friday, Signer called on the governor to organize an emergency meeting of the General Assembly to allow Charlottesville to remove the statue.

With the terrorist attack, these monuments were transformed from equestrian statues into lightning rods,” Signer said. “We can, and we must, respond by denying the Nazis and the KKK and the so-called alt-right the twisted totem they seek. And so for the sake of public safety, public reassurance, to magnify Heather’s voice, and to repudiate the pure evil that visited us here, I am calling today for the removal of these Confederate statues from downtown Charlottesville.”

Signer also wants the General Assembly to enact legislation that would allow localities to ban the open or concealed carry of weapons at public events.

In a new age of domestic terrorism, we need to re-examine the balance that we strike between public safety and violent protests,” Signer said. “While I am friends with many gun-owners and am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, that right, like all Constitutional rights, comes with limits.  Just as machine guns cannot be owned by civilians in this country (a restriction supported by the National Rifle Association), it should not be acceptable to open-carry or concealed-carry firearms at an event of the sort we saw last weekend.  First, the danger is too great of a catastrophic incident.  Second, it is intimidating beyond any reasonable standard for citizens, particularly members of vulnerable communities.” 

Lastly, Signer called on his colleagues to consider ways to memorialize Heather Heyer, the woman who was killed after a vehicle plowed into a group of people protesting the white nationalist rally.

“I believe that we must act to consecrate the memory of Heather Heyer—a martyr in what Senator John McCain recently described as the battle here between our better angels and our worst demons,” he said. “In the coming days and weeks, I will propose to my colleagues on City Council and to stakeholders in our community that we take concrete steps to memorialize Heather’s name and legacy.”  

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