Vincent Smith, a city engineer in Virginia Beach, Virginia, observed several flaws in the city’s security measures three years ago. According to a report from the New American, Smith observed that “The gap was not allowing employees to carry a firearm.”
Smith expanded on what a “gun-free” policy entailed:
“Instead, people were forced — like I am every day — to choose between earning a living and saving my life.”
During that time, he created a petition urging the city council to get rid of its “gun-free zone” policies. To Smith’s dismay, his petition only gathered 259 signatures and did not make any progress from there.
Fast forward to 2019, and the political environment around Smith has completely changed.
Smith’s previous fears about gun-free zones were confirmed after the Virginia Beach municipal center massacre on May 31, 2019 where a deranged maniac killed 12 people. Interestingly, the perpetrator passed his federally-mandated background check and complied with other gun control laws on the books. Those gun control measures were still not enough to stop the killer from committing such a heinous act.
Proven right, Smith set up another petition against Virginia Beach’s civil disarmament policy. He updated the petition on Change.org to reflect the new circumstances:
We the people of the United States have the right to bear arms to protect our liberties, freedoms, and our very lives. This right is protected by the 2nd Amendment of our Constitution. Unfortunately, employees of The City of Virginia Beach (herein after The City) are not afforded these rights while engaged in such employment despite no restrictions on the general public possessing weapons while present in City buildings, properties or work sites nor while interacting with City employees.
In the wake of recent tragic events [i.e., the May 31 shooting at the city’s Municipal Center that took 12 lives], it has become abundantly apparent that this employee weapons possession ban must end….
We, the undersigned, call on the Virginia Beach City Council, City Manager and Mayor to amend The City’s employee weapons ban (City HR Policy 6.18) and give personnel who are properly licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia to carry a concealed handgun the ability to do so to protect their lives.
Initially, Smith aimed for 2,500 singers. However, as of today, the number of signers to this petition is 4,858. Smith’s goal is to now get 5,000 signers.
Smith stated, “I want a real consideration by council and a real discussion about changing the HR policy. The city has to [have] something that doesn’t forbid employees [from possessing] weapons … something that includes an allowance for them to take personal responsibility for their own safety.” He added, “What happened [on May 31] could have been minimized.”
Indeed, Smith has a point.
Research from John Lott clearly demonstrates that gun-free zones are detrimental to public safety. In fact, the data show that 98 percent of mass shootings since 1950 have taken place in gun-free zones.
It is no surprise why Congressman Thomas Massie is now introducing legislation, the Safe Students Act, which would ultimately repeal the 1990 Gun-Free School Zones Act—the primary legislation that has turned schools and other venues into soft-targets for deranged criminals.
Smith’s petition will likely eclipse the 5,000-signature mark. Hopefully, cooler heads prevail in Virginia Beach and the municipality changes its policies in a more pro-gun direction. Considering how the overwhelmingly majority of mass shootings take place in gun-free zones, policymakers should completely scrap these gun control laws.
No ifs, ands, or buts.
There’s no need to repeat failed policies.