SALEM, Va. (WFXR) — Roanoke Valley gun dealers and gun enthusiasts are speaking out publicly about recent gun violence.
Over 20 vendors were seen Friday, July 16 at the Salem Civic Center, gearing up for the weekend’s C&E Gun Show.
Like so many people, Curtis Compton has seen the headlines.
“It’s very tragic in our country today,” said Compton.
The rapid rise in gun violence in 2020 is continuing to plague American communities at devastatingly high levels through 2021.
As a licensed dealer, Compton said he’s doing his part to keep guns away from criminals.
“When we sell to folks, we go to the state police. We go through the proper background checks,” said Compton. “Although I’m an individual seller, I still follow all the protocols to make sure that the gun isn’t getting into the wrong hands.”
Robert Floyd owns Commonwealth Arms, a gun shop based in Covington. He’s noticed an increase in gun violence in Roanoke.
“There’s a lot of gang violence. There’s a lot of drugs,” said Floyd.
Last year, the city saw 12 gun-related homicides, a slight increase from 11 homicides in 2019 and eight homicides in 2018. There have also been rising incidents involving teenagers.
Floyd says gun dealers like him often get blamed for the violent acts.
“We unfairly get a bad rep on the gun violence and the reality of the situation is, by definition, a criminal doesn’t care what the law says,” said Floyd.
Roanoke City Council is now considering a tentative gun buyback program, called “Groceries Not Guns.”
According to the event proposal outline on the Roanoke City Council Agenda, guns will be exchanged for grocery gift cards, with more dangerous guns exchanged for higher value gift cards.
Floyd says when it comes to a solution to curb gun violence, it’s not that simple.
“Gun buybacks are usually not the answer, because that involves tax money,” said Floyd. “The answer is education, both at home and at schools.”
“I think there’s ways we can implement certain rules,” said Compton. “So people can have the same opportunity that I had growing up.”
The C&E Salem Gun Show will take place at the Salem Civic Center on Saturday, July 17 and Sunday, July 18.
All federal, state, and local firearm ordinances must be obeyed. Loaded firearms are not accepted.
For breaking news delivered to you, subscribe to WFXR’s breaking news email list