UPDATED: Another mass public shooting, another place where the victims were banned from carrying guns, the attack at Virginia Beach

Jun 2, 2019 | Featured

[Originally posted on Saturday, June 1] Another horrifying attack and immediately gun control politicians and organizations are calling for more gun control laws. Former VP Joe Biden, Sen. Kamala Harris, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former congressman Beto O’Rourke, Cory Booker and many others put out calls for more gun control within a few hours of the tragedy. The question of “How many more?” is a question that we ask ourselves all the time. Now the desire “to do something” is very understandable, but let’s try to do something that would actually matter.


Here is something that people might want to consider. Virginia Beach bans employees from being able to carry guns (see employee handbook info). In addition, while it was indeed possible for a civilian to enter the “Operations Building” where the attack occurred and carry a gun, the “Operations Building,” as its name suggests, was a building where virtually only employees would be in and indeed everyone who was killed in the building was a public employee. In addition, the killer “used his employee keycard to gain access to parts of the municipal building where the shooting occurred,” so only employees are allowed in this area, and none of them are allowed to carry a gun there. Even worse, without a keycard, the police had trouble bypassing the locks for this employee-only area, thus giving the killer more time to attack. Unlike all his law-abiding colleagues, the killer didn’t obey the ban. Note that the killer was a public employee and yet he still carried the gun into an area where he was banned from having a gun.


Operations: IT; Planning; Public Works; Public Utilities; Communications and Information technology; traffic engineering; City/Schools Print services; Mail Room. Even with regarding Public Utilities, bills were not paid in that building. Bills were paid in Building 1, not Building 2. This operation actually ran the nuts and bolts of the Public Utilities. One office handles permits for local contractors, but “virtually all” of those are handled electronically or by mail and contractors rarely stop by. The attached picture below also shows how isolated this “operations” building is from the rest of the buildings.
Not all municipal governments in Virginia ban employees from carrying guns. For example, it is OK for employees to carry in Bedford and, we are also told, Campbell Counties.
The one person shot to death in his car outside the building is still missing information, but there are several points to make. Guns would have been allowed around there, though the relative isolation of Building 2 and the nature of who would be going in and out of that building is also relevant. Were there any other people in this area of the municipal center shortly after 4 PM? Was this person also an employee?
More on our list of mass public shootings and gun-free zones since 1950 in the US is available here. For some of the quotes from the killers themselves on explicitly picking targets where people won’t have guns, see the information here. The prevalence of mass public shootings around the world can be seen here. Of course, all the mass public shootings in Europe since at least 1980 have taken place in gun-free zones.
Here is a list of those who have been killed as well as information on their employment. Note that all but one of these twelve people were public employees who were banned from having a gun for protection.

Laquita C. Brown of Chesapeake: A right-of-way agent with more than four years in public works.

Tara Welch Gallagher of Virginia Beach: An engineer with six years in public works.

Mary Louise Gayle of Virginia Beach: A right-of-way agent with 24 years in public works.

Alexander Mikhail Gusev of Virginia Beach: A right-of-way agent with nine years in public works.

Katherine A. Nixon of Virginia Beach: An engineer with 10 years in public utilities.

Richard H. Nettleton of Norfolk: An engineer with 28 years in public utilities.

Christopher Kelly Rapp of Powhatan: An engineer with 11 months in public works.

Ryan Keith Cox of Virginia Beach: An account clerk with more than 12 years in public utilities.

Joshua A. Hardy of Virginia Beach: An engineering technician with more than four years in public utilities.

Michelle “Missy” Langer of Virginia Beach: An administrative assistant with 12 years in public utilities.

Robert “Bobby” Williams of Chesapeake: Special projects coordinator with 41 years in public utilities.

Herbert “Bert” Snelling of Virginia Beach: A contractor there to fill a permit.

The contractor was the one person who was killed outside the building. The Associated Press notes:

Even after the gunfire erupted, Ned Carlstrom thought the shooting at the Virginia Beach government building where he works was an elaborately staged drill for city employees. He crossed paths with the gunman three times — and survived.

Reality set in when Carlstrom looked outside and saw a team of police officers point guns at the building as they dragged away a fatally wounded contractor, leaving behind a pool of blood. . . .

Of course, the media seems immune to even discussing these points. The irony is that rather than going back and removing an existing policy that created a place where people couldn’t protect themselves, the attack will likely be used to make all the other buildings gun-free zones.
Click on the picture below to enlarge.
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  1. Bruce J. Cameron

    Quote from Robert A. Heinlein, noted author.

    “An armed society is a polite society.”

    • Noah Vaile

      Now if everyone had a kevlar “Gun Free Zone” t-shirt with steel-plate inserts I could see the sense in it.

    • Dennis Lee Wilson

      “GUN-FREE” ZONES? 

      “You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the CONSEQUENCES of avoiding reality.”

      ~ Ayn Rand, American author and philosopher

    • Jessics Starr

      Actually there are several generations of indigenous peoples who were murdered by an armed society when they achieved the ability to be armed they were murdered. If a group of black men walked around with guns people would think differently.

      • johnrlott

        Well, Jessics, anyone who has read my research knows that I believe poor blacks who live in high crime urban neighborhoods, the people who are most likely to be victims of violent crime, are the ones who benefit the most from having guns for protection.

        • Robert Poserina

          Well, the first gun control laws were created to prevent free blacks from defending themselves, but the gun control establishment ignores that fact.

      • Stephen Merrette

        Jessica, I’d like you to talk to my good friend Marcus Allen Weldon… you may know him as the “Santa Shooter”. Look him up, read his autobiography and you will find that the people who came to his side and his side when those in the black community wouldn’t help, where the white firearms rights folks. The right to defend your life knows no boundaries. We ALL deserve the right!

      • Kevin Pinto

        Jessics, on the contrary, it has become increasingly clear that African Americans used guns for self protection as an integral part of their strategy for survival and civil rights.

        Guns Helped Secure the Freedom and Civil Rights of Black Americans

        “I’m alive today because of the Second Amendment and the natural right to keep and bear arms.” So declared John R. Salter Jr., the civil rights leader who helped organize the legendary non-violent sit-ins against segregated lunch counters in Jackson, Mississippi, in the 1960s. As Salter recalled it, he always “traveled armed” while doing civil rights work in the Jim Crow South. “Like a martyred friend of mine, NAACP staffer Medgar W. Evers, I, too, was on many Klan death lists and I, too, traveled armed: a .38 special Smith and Wesson revolver and a 44/40 Winchester carbine,” Salter wrote. “The knowledge that I had these weapons and was willing to use them kept enemies at bay.”
        — End quote —

  2. Fred Davison

    One would think that after all these events, rational, thinking, people would come to the conclusion that “gun free zones” are dangerous places to be. I wonder how many of the people who declare these places “gun free” actually spend time there. Just some random thoughts from a self-declared gun nut.

    • NormB

      Well, rational, thinking people HAVE come to the conclusion you referenced. And NONE of the aforementioned intellectually-challenged, emotionally-charged individuals of the democrat ilk ever go anywhere without armed protection.

  3. Michael McQuown

    There are no easy answers. There are a lot of people I wouldn’t trust with a burnt-out match, let alone a weapon. But — bans are not the answer. Murder Inc. exclusively used the ice pick: cheap, untraceable, easy to dispose of. If someone takes it into his mind to kill a lot of people, he will find a way: bombs, vehicles, poison gas — you name it. Every time I hear some politico say “gun violence,” I want to scream; the problem is violence period; as long as the public is distracted by the instrument of the crime, the problem will never be solved. We need to know in more depth what motivates these acts and what can be done to head them off. While background checks are useful in identifying criminals, they can do little more until someone can devise a means of psychological evaluation that can spot potential trouble. As far as arming more citizens, I’m all for it as long as a high degree of training is involved.

    • SHII

      How high of an arbitrary degree of training should anyone put between a victim and their right to defend themselves from imminent death? It’s not “arming citizens”, as if we were deputizing everyone or drafting them into the military. It’s getting out of the way of their natural and Constitutional right to arm themselves. Hold people accountable for their actions, but allow them the liberty and ability to act.
      Spotting potential trouble is a 99.999% fail as well. Failing to diagnose; attempting to diagnose but then punishing before a crime; people suddenly changing; people deliberately hiding signs; people shying away from help because of the stigma and consequences; deliberately over diagnosing for political or social reasons, or because the responsibility then gets put onto the judge, prosecutor, defender, or clinician for any potential evil a person might do in the future – safer to just declare someone dangerous.
      Allow the potential victims to not be helpless, and let everyone’s natural self-preservation instincts moderate to either prevent the murders or to stop them sooner once started.

  4. Hawkins

    The asst. Mayor stated that the employee had Card Keys and unfettered access to all areas of the building. I have heard that the Killer had a suppressor. That is a Class III item with vastly different permit requirements, and in the order of a NINE MONTH waiting period.

  5. Chris Ferro

    Was this ban due to a city law that was passed by the city council? Or was this some kind of executive order by the mayor?

  6. Henry Servatt

    Yes, again, “GUN FREE ZONE”, as if there can be any such. Signs do NOT work. Laws do NOT work.
    Good guys with guns WORK – perhaps not perfectly, but they seem to do a better job than mere signs and laws.

  7. John C. Gardner

    They obviously need a bigger “Gun Free Zone” sign!

  8. Steve

    We the public will never be “Safe”.
    Nobody ever expects to be shot.
    We all go through our day as if all is perfect. Guess what People, it’s a nasty place to be.
    Law abiding citizens know the rules.
    We abide by them, live by them.
    Concealed Carry, make it your way to live!!

    • james ritchie

      Amen! I carry everywhere. I too old to run, to big to hide, I rather fight back with a chance of winning than be shot without defense!

      • Rod Newnham

        The Gurkha soldiers of Nepal – the ones who serve with the British Army and carry the kukri – have a saying: better to die than live as a coward.

  9. Bob

    All the politicians advocating for more gun control should show some guts and go without armed protection. Lead the way.

  10. Don Tabor

    Virginia is a Dillon Rule state. The City of Virginia Beach cannot ban CITIZENS from carrying in public buildings except for court and police buildings thanks to the State preemption law. But they can prohibit EMPLOYEES from being armed there as a condition of employment.

    That policy is unwise, but allowed.

    • johnrlott

      And how does that contradict anything that we posted?

      • Richard Hinman

        The contradiction is in the last sentence of the above article: “removing an existing LAW
        that created a place where people couldn’t protect themselves,…”.
        It was not against the LAW for employees to carry guns.. It was against policy. They wouldn’t have been arrested, they may have been fired.
        Also the article implies it was a gun-free zone. But according to the definition you use for “gun-free zones”, (in the big article on GFZ’s at this website), building #2 was not a gun-free zone.

    • Serge

      Thanks Don. Good, clear, straightforward.

  11. BillCa

    Gun Free zones don’t, can’t and won’t work to solve the problem. The person who decides he will finally kill people, and is determined, is unlikely to be deterred by signs, committing misdemeanors or even felonies to accomplish his goal. What WILL deter these people? Failure! The possibility of armed resistance stopping them before they can extract their revenge. There may be some who are so bent they will try anyway, or those who will try to plan for that resistance. But those will be the few. Most will not risk it.

  12. John boothby

    I would like to know who the shooter was and more about his motivation.

    • Michael B

      City employee.

      He’s dead. He won’t be answering the question

    • Jim

      He was Black and they will never let anyone the truth.

  13. Jay

    What state has the strictest gun laws? Massachusetts.
    What state has the fewest gun fatalities per 100,000 residents? Massachusetts.

  14. Edwin Saint Sing

    Thank God for John Lott and CPRC ! His version of” The Rest of the Story ” makes him the Paul Harvey of every GUN STORY. EXCELLENT WORK !
    Ed Saint Sing

  15. Patrick Clopp

    If we the people are told we can not be armed for protection then no one in city,state, federal government should have bodyguards to protect them. Or carry a weapon. I Don’t care if you think your worth controlling this free country then you have no reason to protect your freedom or life. Your open to the dangers of life just like the rest of us!

  16. Hector Falcon

    This is insane. City rules kept employees from having guns. This left them vulnerable to the employee that did not obey the rule and brought in a gun. If employees had guns they could have defended themselves. When will our politicians learn?

  17. Rod Newnham

    Do not – I repeat – do not give in to siren calls for gun registration. You WILL be disarmed eventually. Defend the 2A. UK’s version was “circumvented” over many years.

    Among many tens of thousands of UK law-abiding subjects made scapegoats for policing and political failings, I suffered the ignominy of having my registered firearms (competition .22 pistols and an historic Colt .455) seized during 1997 and 1998 after the massacre of children and a teacher in a Dunblane school (Scotland) March !996.

    Our self-loading, centrefire rifles were banned and confiscated in 1987 after a maniac – known to the police – murdered innocents in his home town of Hungerford. Witnessing firearm owners kept their guns locked in steel cabinets for fear of being caught using them (to stop the carnage) by the police, who appeared hours later and after the perpetrator committed suicide. Shotguns then came under full, individual serial numbered registration like rifles and pistols. Many thousands of legally held shotguns promptly disappeared, ‘allegedly.

    Airguns are registered under license in Scotland. Modern flintlock and cap lock firearms (Uberti, Pedersoli etcetera) can only be acquired under license; the original (antique) arms can be freely purchased but not fired; as can cartridge firearms of ‘obsolete’ calibre – unfortunately for me .44WCF, .38WCF and .45/70 calibre are not considered obsolete because the ammunition is considered “freely obtainable”. So too .303British, which means Lee Enfields are serial registered.

    In the interests of balance, we are ‘allowed’ to acquire and shoot .22 cal semi-auto’ rifles and carbines. Fifty cal bolt-action were to be banned just recently, but activity meant the government had second thoughts. However, MARS firearms in current ownership are to be severely restricted, then banned. You think US firearm laws are complex! And they are.

    A Swiss resident said on BBC radio in 1996, “As long as my state trusts me with a firearm I can trust my state”.

    Do not accept registration of any kind!

  18. James Clark

    When will they post that the shooter was Black?

  19. Carlos Perdue

    Why did LaPierre’s NRA insist on “gun-free” zones in Virginia’s shall issue “carry” law, including restaurants, schools, and employer preemption, when it had solid pro-gun majorities in Virginia?

    Why did it sabotage efforts to repeal the restaurant ban for many years?

    Why didn’t it preempt local employer and college “gun free” zones long ago for public safety and self-defense when pro-gun forces still had solid control of Virginia?

    • johnrlott

      That is not correct.

  20. Richard Hinman

    Do you pro-2nd amendment types believe that employers and private companies should be REQUIRED to allow their employees to carry guns?.
    Is that constitutional?.
    Seems like a violation of conservative principles to require employers to do something.

    • Sandra H

      The right to carry a firearm to defend yourself is already a constitutional guarantee. Don’t try to reverse the correct thinking by acting as though one needs to prove themselves to be afforded this right. What you should say is “should employers be allowed to deny the constitutional rights of their employees?” At least phrase it correctly. And I highly recommend you read up on the American revolution. Jefferson. Adams. Franklin. The founding of our country. Maybe you, too, would be a “pro 2A type”.

      • Richard Hinman

        I don’t care how you phrase it.
        So we’ll do it your way: “should employers be allowed to deny the constitutional rights of their employees?’.
        I would have to say: Yes (to a degree).
        Sandra- Do you think Colin Kaepernick and his fellow NFL players have the right to kneel and protest during games?. Free speech is a constitutional right.
        But they work for the NFL and the contract forbids them from protesting during games.
        So why wouldn’t an employer have the right to forbid employees from carrying a gun?.
        There are probably many examples of one’s constitutional rights being restricted while on the job.

  21. C. Rodney James

    In looking at the big picture on mass shootings. There may be something in the work of Malcolm Gladwell. In his book : THE TIPPING POINT, Gladwell gets into “epidemics” analyzing what we often refer to as “fads.” His basic rule for epidemics is rooted in the economic principle of the 80/20 idea. — that in most situations 20% of the participants are responsible for 80% of the outcome.. To this he adds the point that in certain unusual situations a very small percentage can have a disproportional influence.

    In Chapter 7 he cites as a paradigm suicide in Micronesia. In the 1960’s suicide was virtually unknown. For no obvious reason there was a sudden rise. By the 1980’s the per-capita rise was the highest in the world. The individual reasons were rather trivial — spats with parents /girl friends, the victims young adult males. Some “experimented” with self-strangulation , hanging being the proper protocol. Suicide notes appear an important component — one of “self expression.” Numbers rose as the popular culture — songs broadcast on the radio, added content. A suicide in a particular town or area is often followed by others.

    Considering mass shootings, with emphasis on school shootings, suicide is a widespread conclusion to many of these, either self-inflicted or in confrontations with law enforcement — suicide by cop. In America the mass media (broadcast TV) guarantees every shooter his 15 minutes of fame. As part of this ritual the “assault rifle” has become the weapon of choice. I have recently heard statistics (source unknown) of mass-shooting fatality figures, based on the type of gun used, to draw conclusions of firearm lethality by type. This appears in arguments for gun control.

    Maybe the epidemic notion has some merit.

    • johnrlott

      Dear Rodney:
      Thanks very much, though I am not generally a big fan of Gladwell. Not the most careful guy and reads in too much into stories. Thanks.

  22. Brianm14

    Another example of careful, thoughtful, rational -indeed scientific- evaluation of a situation after ascertaining the actual facts. As a life-long professional scientist myself, I recognize the “real deal ” when I see it. And I have been seeing it for decades in Dr. John Lott. I doff my cap to you once again, sir. Yours is a truthful and thus a truly ethical voice.

    I only wish my “liberal” friends (I am a left-leaning moderate) would open their eyes and ears to facts, and not filter everything through their political correctness machine. Frankly, I tire of hearing close friends, good men and women, trot out silly, yet harmful statements you put to bed long ago. Keep up the good work, and we’ll keep using it here in the trenches.

  23. OFRGunny

    What Gov. Northam recommends and arguments based on facts is response:
    Universal background checks (UBC).
    Response: What UBC’s do is criminalize the private transfer of private property from the owner to anyone else. Private sales are legal in Virginia. The Virginia Beach Shooter (VBS) purchased his weapons thru a licensed dealer which means that this first law would not have prevented the shooting.

    A ban on assault weapons, to include suppressors and bump stocks;
    Response: The VBS used two 1911 .45 pistols. No semi-automatic rifles were used. This law would not have prevented the shooting.

    While as of this writing the list of evidence has not proven that a suppressor was used, they are legal to purchase and own. The process takes around six months to complete thru the BATFE and includes a federal background check. Suppressors do not make a firearm more accurate, more deadly, nor does it “silence” the weapon. This law would not have prevented the shooting.

    Bump stocks are already illegal under federal law . They can’t be more illegal by Virginia passing a law banning them. The shooter did not use a bump stock.
    This law shows how ignorant Gov. Northam is about US gun laws and would not have prevented the shooting.

    An extreme risk protective order;
    Response: The VBS was not under a protective order of any kind nor was there any evidence that he was considered a danger to himself or others.
    This law would not have prevented the shooting.

    Reinstating the one-gun-a-month law;
    Response: The VBS bought one handgun in 2016 and the other in 2018.
    This law would not have prevented the shooting.

    Child access prevention;
    Response: The VBS shooter was an adult. This law would not have prevented the shooting.

    Requiring people to report lost and stolen firearms;
    Response: The VBS shooter did not use a stolen or lost gun.
    This law would not have prevented the shooting.

    Expanding local authority to regulate firearms, including in government buildings.
    Response: As evidenced by numerous shootings in federal, state, and other non-government buildings, “Gun Free Zones” do not prevent shooters from entering a building with a gun. They only prevent law abiding citizens from legally carrying a gun to defend themselves against active shooters. Virginia Beach employees are prohibited from carrying firearms(Employee Handbook, par. 2.2.B https://crimeresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Policy-6.18-07182012-Weapons-Policy.pdf ) This law would not have prevented the shooting.

  24. Richard Hinman

    Lots of straw-man arguments from OFRGUNNY.

    The fact that a gun law didn’t prevent a shooting doesn’t mean that the law was ineffective.
    Sometimes people with no mental health history buy non-prohibited guns and commit mass shootings.
    That’s just how it is.
    When gun-control laws do work, shootings DON”T happen, and it doesn’t make news.
    The purpose of gun-control is to REDUCE the number of shootings, not prevent all of them.
    And also to REDUCE the number of casualties in shootings when they do occur.
    It has been confirmed in numerous news reports that a silencer was used and that people thought it was a nail gun.
    Also the killer used “multiple extended ammunition magazines”.
    Gee…OFRGUNNY, you didn’t mention that. if those had been illegal, lives could have been saved.