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

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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.


  • kenny

    how do you not allow a concealed gun permit owner in your store?thats the whole point,you going to frisk(against the law)every person that enters your I said before these guys are idiots with nothing better to do then cause problems for people that do carry only for protection if ever needed.get a life losers

  • Jim

    This the least of Carytowns Problems. I’m much more concerned with the violents thugs who come out in the evenings. Carytown shops have been closing at dusk for decades.

    • Alex Lee

      Sounds like you haven’t been to carytown in decades. I’m in carytown every day and night, going on 9 years, and I’ve never seen “violent thugs.” Drunks and obnoxious county drivers, yeah. No violent thugs, save for a smash and grab at Schwarzschild a few months back. Don’t talk smack about a neighborhood you don’t visit.

    • Mo Fiscal conservatism

      I’m there all the time at all times of the day. I can’t say I’ve ever seen “violent thugs” in Carytown either. Are you sure you aren’t mistaking it for another area? Especially with businesses like Can Can, it’s a good crowd every time I’m there.

    • John

      You’re delusional.. I live in Byrd Park and am in Cary Town ’til late a few times a month. I have no idea what you’re talking about with thugs… Xtras, NY Deli, The Daily, Portrait House, multiple other restaurants are open past midnight and there’s usually a decent crowd around. Think you’re mistaking it for Shockoe Bottom on Main St?

    • manalishi

      Indeed. Predators will not “do the deed” knowing they will be shot leaving the scene.

  • Ralph Mills

    you can pull a cart Carytown all youwant. You can not change the law by boycotting shops and it is legal to do what they are doing. These people will be the last people to ever hurt anybody in Carytown. I am a LEO in richmond and have spoken with these people the few times. they are just exercising a constitutional right and have no desire to hurt anyone. there have been numerous calls put in to police about them so why do you think they are still there? Just because you decide to boycott does not mean the police will make an unconstitutional arrest just to satisfy your personal beliefs.

    • Belsma

      I understand the point they are trying to make, but how in the heck would anyone know if they are “bad” guys or “good” guys if they had not seen this on the news? Being they have been going down for a few weeks and this is the first I have heard about it, I would have run for cover if I had seen them. With schools and malls/theaters being targets for gunmen in the recent past, what do they think folks would think or say? I would think it would not be very safe for them to walk around with their guns like that as well. There is a time and place and I just don’t think they made the best choice.

      • manalishi

        ” I would think it would not be very safe for them to walk around with their guns like that as well.” Your opinion has been molded by a planned indoctrination process as laid out by Eric Holder.

  • Ralph Mills

    once again Android thinks it knows what I’m saying. should have learned to proofread before now so let’s hear it!

  • bjohnson58

    I raised my family near Carytown and walk through the street several times a week, frequently at night. None of my family has ever had any problems, nor have any of our neighbors who have lived here as long as we have. Why these individuals who seem to want to demonstrate their manhood by carrying guns have to cause trouble is beyond my understanding. If they do not shoot themselves in the foot, I fear they may easily shoot someone else by accident. At the very least, they heighten the tension on the street and bring fear into the hearts of parents who wish to protect their children. Perhaps their real desire is to terrorize the neighborhood and cause residents and money to flee the city. You do not have to be a kid to be a bully.

  • Johnnie G

    Clearly the folks that openly display their weapons have the right to do so. That is in impolite and in bad taste is the issue. Kind of like smoking, you have the right to do that in some places, but it is courteous to ask those around if it bothers them. When it clearly upsets people, why do it. Unfortunately, this is yet another example of thinking about the “me” and not thinking about others. In this case weapons are an anti-social device much like a cell phone or the like.

  • Kristina Jaramillo

    As a Richmond native wanted to comment as I now reside in Aurora, Colorado a mile from our local mall where a psyco raided our theatre. Not a gang member- CU student productive member of society, rights with access to weapons ANYONE ANYTIME can loose their minds! Fight for safety. Fight for your family. Good luck Richmond ♥

  • Linda

    I am a person who believes in the right to conceal and have a handgun but these guys are showing why most people fear gun owners. There is no reason to carry these type of guns around for people to see. Most people fear these types of guns and if you want to carry concealed…..carry your handgun and do your normal business!!! Way to go on helping all the people who respect the law and do not throw it in people’s faces!!!!

  • Steel Mill

    What is the point of these goons bullying folks by showing off their hardware?
    I get it that it your right, and?
    Seems like a sign of a person with an inferiority complex or the need to have people look at them.

    • The Education of the Firearms

      They have arrived to spread the word among us that we “need the education of the firearms.”
      I, for one, would like to thank these wise proselytizers. Where can we sign up for the reeducation camps?

  • B wills

    No offense but these guys likely filed into a short bus for the ride home. Can’t imagine anyone not being concerned about this crew carrying any kind of weapon.

  • boop

    If you want to work toward public acceptance and understanding of open carry rights, picking the biggest, scariest piece you can come up with and taking it to a crowded public area with few escape options and lots of children isn’t the way to go. Just because people “shouldn’t be” scared doesn’t mean they aren’t. If these guys actually wanted open carry to be publicly accepted and not just to bully and intimidate strangers who are already scared of guns, they’d carry their handguns on their hips and just walk around and do their shopping — y’know, like normal, everyday people and not crazies.

    Not everyone who owns a gun is a responsible gun owner. If you’re irresponsible and inconsiderate enough to bring something that wholly unnecessary to Carytown, it makes me wonder what other irresponsible and inconsiderate things you’re planning on doing with it. No, of course you’re not going to go rob someone. But is someone going to get hurt because of something you thought was funny/okay to do? Quite possibly.

      • Boop

        Long blocks of townhome-style shops with no space in between to duck into, narrow sidewalks and busy roads that you couldn’t move into to avoid something? Yeah, I’m going to go with few escape options. If you want to stay in Carytown, you’re stuck walking uncomfortably close to whoever happens to be on the sidewalk. If there’s an emergency and you need to leave quickly, you’re going to have to follow the other 25 people walking down that block to the nearest road. Yep, vastly unfamiliar with Carytown. I’ve never even been there before and those three words you pointed out completely invalidate everything I said. You really got me.


    I am slightly amused that they would choose to demonstrate and carry guns in what I consider a relatively safe area. Now that they’ve made a point in Carytown perhaps they would like to move on to Gilpin Court or Essex Village or Virginia Center Commons? ;-)

      • SHIBBS

        Really, Manalishi? 1 reported crime from 2014 in that link and an abundance of info on ONE bank robbery? There is plenty of crime reported in surrounding areas but yes-Carytown itself is relatively safe. Due to that fact the majority of theft and/or robberies in that specific area are attributed to people having a false sense of security and leaving vehicles unlocked, valuables unsecured and drunkenly stumbling home from a bar crawl. So I am confident in saying Carytown does not need a Militia.

      • manalishi

        ” are attributed to people having a false sense of security”. I’ve been waiting for the statement that supports both sides equally, well done!

  • Dwayne Nikolaisen

    Most of the people I know that Shop Carytown are fine with people having firearms, they do think displaying them is a bit much, but to have them is fine. the title CBS uses is just prompted by the gun-grabber mentality, and to get people to read the column. like we all have done.

  • RC

    Gilpin Court, Essex Village, VA Ctr Commons, love your point SHIBBS!
    The open-carry thing in Carytown is akin to playing loud music in the car, wearing ostentacious clothes, etc: “Hey everybody! LOOK AT ME!!!” The problem is that, if you’re a patron or employee in Carytown, how many seconds do you have to decide if the person that just walked into the store is a threat or someone just “exercising his/her rights”?
    It seems to me that it would be a much more useful and productive exercise to create some kind of Neighborhood Watch. There have been a few incidents in Fan/Museum District where people have been mugged or attacked in recent months. At least they could get some health benefits while “educating” the public.

  • VS Teacher

    i don’t fear the people who openly carry their firearms. It is the people who conceal their illegal weapons that should be feared. After each school shooting, the public outcry is for stricter gun laws….. when guns become outlawed, only outlaws will have guns. And the outlaws don’t care about gun laws anyway. They don’t get their guns legally. Instead they prefer to steal their guns or get them on the streets. I personally will frequent Carytown more often now because I will feel safer there than at Willow Lawn.

  • John

    I completely agree with their right to do what they’re doing, but completely disagree with their decision to do so. Part of me thinks it’s awesome to see someone in Carytown with an AK slung across his shoulder, but I also think they end up doing more harm than good for the cause. It’s tough to say though, because if it goes on long enough people will soon become more receptive of it.

    Kudos to the RPD for understanding the law and not hauling these guys in for some bogus reason. I’m sure they use discretion after seeing police departments across the country getting sued for trampling on peoples’ consitutional rights.

  • Jim

    You can still call the cops on these people right? I mean, if I saw someone walking down the street with a giant firearm, how do I know if they’re good or bad? If you see something, say something right?

  • Nic Bennett

    While I wholly support these young men’s right to openly carry their rifles, there is a productive way and a counter productive way to make a statement. It’s unfortunate that these young men have chosen the counter productive option. I hope they read my statement because I would like to encourage them to dress more professionally, and groom themselves more professionally as their look alone is enough to turn people off before they ever have a chance to voice their message. A short, well thought out , conversation invoking sign would also help. Addititionally, the rifles are overkill, I’d encourage them to openly carry pistols instead. I’m glad they care enough to be out there doing something, but the bar is easier moved incrementally, else we’ll scare more businesses into Target-esque cave-ins and that’s the opposite of what we’d like to accomplish.

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