Thursday, June 13, 2019


Kate Nixon worked as a compliance manager on the second floor of Operations Building 2 in the Virginia Beach Municipal Center. The 42-year-old was described as “always helping others.” She was president of the Pembroke Meadows Civic League and a devoted church goer at St. Gregory the Great Catholic Church.

Kate was also one of the 12 people killed by another employee, DeWayne Craddock.

As far as the national media has been concerned, that was the story.

But in the evening of Thursday, May 30, the night before the attack, Kate was worried that DeWayne Craddock and another employee were dangerous. She talked to her husband, Jason, about whether she should hide a pistol in her handbag. Kate decided not to, because the city bans public employees from having permitted concealed handguns at work.

Not all municipal governments in Virginia ban employees from carrying guns. If Kate had worked in Bedford or Campbell Counties, she would have been able to carry her pistol to work.

While it was indeed possible for non-government workers to enter the Operations Building where the attack occurred and they are allowed to carry permitted concealed handguns in city buildings, the Operations Building housed up to 400 employees in city/schools print services, mail room services, planning, public works, public utilities, traffic engineering, and communications and information technology. This wasn’t a place for customers — they could pay their bills in another building.

By using his employee keycard to access employee-only locations where the shooting occurred, the killer ensured that no one would be carrying a concealed firearm. This gave him a chance to kill more people, without anyone firing back. The shooter also gained time because the police had trouble entering the area without an employee keycard. The one person killed who was alone in the parking lot was not an employee.

These killers aren’t as stupid as some people imagine. They want to kill as many people as possible, so they deliberately attack gun-free zones. Since 1950, 98 percent of mass public shootings in the United States have occurred in places where general citizens are banned from carrying. Unlike all of his law-abiding colleagues, the Virginia Beach killer didn’t obey the ban.

Kate’s story is hardly unique. Concealed handgun permit holders who might have stopped attacks range from Suzanna Gratia Hupp at Luby’s Cafeteria in the 1991 to assistant football coach Aaron Feis at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in 2018.

But the mainstream media continually refuses to mention when an attack occurred in a “gun-free zone.”

After the Virginia Beach attack, The Wall Street Journal noted, “In Virginia, it is legal to carry guns into public buildings, with a few exceptions.” While literally true, it is completely misleading not to explain that one of those exceptions forbids Virginia Beach employees from carrying guns in public buildings.

The national media also ignores stories of armed private citizens stopping would-be mass public shootings. On the rare occasions that they do cover the stories, they get them wrong.

There have been dozens of such cases in recent years. Last fall, at a back-to-school event in Titusville, Florida, more than 200 students were present when a man started firing his gun at people. Fortunately, a vendor with a concealed handgun permit stepped in and shot the attacker, seriously injuring him. “This person stepped in and saved a lot of people’s lives,” said Titusville Police Sgt. William Amos. “He’s a hero.”

The Pittsburgh synagogue shooting is another case, but the media coverage was completely wrong. After a concealed handgun permit holder stopped a killer who was shooting black people at a Kroger grocery store in Louisville, Kentucky, national media outlets, such as ABC and NBC News, noted that the killer told another white man, “Whites don’t kill whites.” It sounded as if the killer was merely reassuring a bystander that he had nothing to worry about. But they left out the crucial first part of the quote. The killer said, “Don’t shoot me. I won’t shoot you. Whites don’t shoot whites.” The other white person was pointing a permitted concealed handgun at the killer.

With biased news coverage like this, it is hardly surprising that people want to ban guns. The media’s refusal to talk about the dangers of gun-free zones has a huge impact on the gun control debate. They refuse to provide balanced reporting that doesn’t fit their agenda.

• John R. Lott is the president of the Crime Prevention Research Center and the author most recently of “The War on Guns.”

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