Roanoke Valley residents react to gun control executive actions by President Biden

Roanoke Valley News

ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — For months, Roanoke leaders have been struggling to curb gun violence in the Star City.

“Here in Roanoke we have certainly seen the effects, especially in the last week,” said Joe Cobb, a member of the Gun Violence Prevention Commission.

Police are currently investigating a recent string of shootings from Saturday, April 3 along Queen Avenue NW and Campbell Avenue SE, to Thursday, April 8 along Rorer Avenue SW.

For members of the city’s commission, it all comes down to guns.

“Anything we can do to further limit access to illegal gun purchases,” Cobb said, “is really critical.”

An easier task with President Joe Biden’s proposed additional funding for gun crime prevention.

“A lot of the programs today that were named, could have a direct impact on our ability to magnify the work that we want to do, as quickly as possible to reduce gun violence in our community,” said Cobb.

For others, it’s not that simple.

“Guns are a passion of mine growing up, and it just kind of evolved from that,” said Zachery Curtis, owner of Atheris Rifle Company, located in the Hollins area.

He disagreed on Biden’s executive actions, calling it a constitutional violation.

“It’s an infringement,” Curtis explained.

Since 2017, he has served as the owner of his gun manufacturer store, specializing in the making and selling of guns. Like pistol braces, an item for which Biden hopes to tighten regulations.

“If they decide, ‘Hey, we’re going to go after these pistol braces’, yes, that will affect us,” said Curtis. “That is a part of our business.”

When it comes to “ghost guns,” homemade guns assembled from parts that lack serial numbers, he says they’re not a hot commodity.

“It’s not one of those things where they’re easy to do, and that’s a big part of the reasoning behind them trying to ban them because they think ‘oh, they’re so easy,'” Curtis said. “They’re not.”

He adds the biggest issue with gun violence isn’t about guns, but rather one’s mental illness.

“Mental health. A big part of it is mental health,” said Curtis.

According to Cobb, while mental health does play a factor, the best way to see a curb in violence is community involvement.

“It’s going to take a comprehensive, community effort,” Cobb said.

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