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Poll Shows Most Virginians Want Police to Prioritize Public Safety During Protests

What’s the line between allowing public protests and protecting public safety?

Virginians overwhelmingly favor giving law enforcement the ability to restrict weapons at public protests. That’s according to a new statewide poll conducted by the Wilder School of Government at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Grant Rissler at VCU says 75% of the respondents say maintaining public safety is more important while 21% say maintaining freedoms of those assembled should prevail.

“It provides a sense of what the public thinks about this question, which is that there is a default preference for maintaining public safety.”

One of the most striking things about the poll was the regional variation.

“The northwest region, which is the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia and the Piedmont area just west of DC, were the most likely to prefer maintaining public safety or to prioritize that. And the least likely was Northern Virginia.”

The poll also found that 85% of Virginians are in favor of local law enforcement having the ability to remove a person’s personal firearms for up to a year if a court finds that person has exhibited dangerous behaviors.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.