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Some shoppers fear Carytown if people continue to open carry long guns

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) People have vocalized — through dozens of emails, Facebook posts and tweets — that they will boycott the Carytown shopping area if men continue to open carry their rifles and shotguns. 

While some saw no problem with the men exercising their rights, others expressed concern about safety and some said they will boycott.

“The people who are choosing to stay away, because of that, are the people we are trying to reach the most, because they are the ones that need the education of the firearms,” said Scott Royle, one of the men who regularly demonstrates with his long gun.

Royle is one of several young men who joined James Spitzer in his open carry demonstration. They walk along Cary Street, through the downtown area and along Broad Street.

“We have done nothing wrong, we’re just simply exercising our rights,” Royle said.

“I can understand how some people would be uncomfortable with it but I don’t think I would necessarily boycott Carytown, it’s such a great place; I’d be sad if people stopped coming here,” said Alicia Leon, who works and shops in Carytown.

“I think personally, with these specific individuals, it might be the wrong reaction but safety always comes first and if a person feels unsafe, then they have to do what they have to do, but I personally think Carytown is perfectly safe,” said Hakim Christopher, a Carytown vendor who said he has spoken with the young men.

The group isn’t breaking a law by open carrying their long guns, according to state code, section 18.2-287.4., but some wonder if they are on the verge of breaking other laws.

“I think the individuals want to make their demonstration, their points of view and we fully understand that. We also understand the concerns of the citizens, the business owners, people who are shopping in Carytown,” said Richmond Police Major Steve Drew.

While the Carytown area itself cannot be designated a gun free zone, individual business owners have the right to not allow open or concealed guns in their store.