Guns and Gear

Virginia Beach Employee Works To Abolish City’s Gun-Free Zone Policy

Photo by ERIC BARADAT/AFP/Getty Images

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A Virginia Beach employee is circulating a petition to abolish the city’s policy barring personnel from bringing guns into work if they are properly permitted.

Vincent Smith, an engineer who worked in Building 2 where the recent shooting occurred, posted a petition on change.org asking the city to amend its employee weapons ban so properly licensed personnel may bring their gun to work, local CBS affiliate WTKR reported.

“People are forced, like I am every day, to choose between earning a living and saving my life,” Smith told WTKR.

“I want a real consideration by council and a real discussion about changing the policy that the city has to something that doesn’t just forbid employees to have weapons but something that includes an allowance for people to take a personal level of responsibility for their own safety,” he said.

VIRGINIA BEACH, VIRGINIA - JUNE 02: People stop to pay their respects to those killed in a mass shooting at a makeshift memorial outside the City of Virginia Beach Operations Building June 02, 2019 in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Eleven city employees and one private contractor were shot to death Friday in the operations building by engineer DeWayne Craddock who had worked for the city for 15 years. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

VIRGINIA BEACH, VIRGINIA – JUNE 02: People stop to pay their respects to those killed in a mass shooting at a makeshift memorial outside the City of Virginia Beach Operations Building June 02, 2019 in Virginia Beach, Virginia. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The petition had 2,270 signers as of June 26, close to its initial goal of 2,500.

Smith wasn’t in the building during the May 31 shooting that left 12 people dead, including shooter DeWayne Craddock. The shooting occurred on multiple floors of Building 2 of the Virginia Beach Municipal Center, reported CNN. (RELATED: 13 Killed Including Suspected Gunman In Virginia Beach Municipal Center: Police)

Smith also said he doesn’t believe that everyone with a concealed carry permit should be instantly granted the right to bring their gun to work without meeting additional criteria.

“I see a program where employees are vetted through background checks and psychological screenings on a regular basis,” Smith said.

Smith is also his building’s evacuation manager, and long recognized a “gap” in security because qualified employees could not carry a firearm into the building. In 2016 he drafted a petition to change the policy and collected 260 signatures, one of whom was Bert Snelling, an outside contractor killed May 31.

“Had I gotten these changes effective on May 30th we would be looking at a very different May 31st,” Smith added.

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