'Gun free zone' law disarmed Virginia Beach shooting victim, attorney says

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The night before Kate Nixon and 11 others were murdered by a disgruntled co-worker, the decade-long Virginia Beach city employee talked with her husband about bringing a gun to work for self-defense -- a decision that was taken out of her hands by the city's ban on employees carrying firearms at work, a Nixon family lawyer said.

Now, Nixon's family is calling for an independent investigation into events leading up to the May 31 shooting and what could have been done differently before and during it, particularly given the explicit concerns about shooter DeWayne Craddock.

“Kate expressed to her husband concerns about this individual in particular, as well as one other person,” Nixon family attorney Kevin Martingayle told WHRV's "HearSay with Cathy Lewis" radio show Monday.  “In fact, they had a discussion the night before about whether or not she should take a pistol and hide it in her handbag -- and decided not to, ultimately, because there's a policy apparently against having any kind of weapons that are concealed in the building."

The casket of Virginia Beach shooting victim Katherine Nixon is wheeled to a hearse after a funeral service at St. Gregory The Great Catholic Church in Virginia Beach, Va Thursday, June 6, 2019. Nixon was killed along with eleven others during a mass shooting last Friday. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

The city of Virginia Beach prohibits employees from carrying "any weapon" while working or on city property, unless authorized by a supervisor. The city policy notes: "The prohibition against possession of a weapon applies even if a member has a permit to carry a concealed weapon."

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An employee violating the policy would not be in violation of the law -- but they would be breaking rules set by their place of employment. "Employees who violate this policy will be subject to discipline, up to and including dismissal," the city policy states.

Julie Hill, Director of the Communications Office at Virginia Beach, said some on the City Council were considering making it illegal rather than just a policy violation if employees carried a gun at work. In Virginia, however, cities aren't allowed to make it illegal for licensed permit holders to carry, so the City Council would merely be considering recommending the state allow them to impose legal penalties on such employees.

"There is an item on next week’s City Council meeting for the Council to discuss a resolution to support a bill to allow localities to prohibit the carrying of firearms in governmental buildings," Hill told FoxNews.com. She also pointed to a statement the city released about the shooting.

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Martingayle, meanwhile, is still focused on figuring how that shooting could have been prevented in the first place.

“We've heard a lot of information out there suggesting there were a lot of concerns about the shooter well before this happened," he told WHRV. "We need to know more about that. An outside investigation is the perfect vehicle to get to the truth. That's it. This is a search for truth by a grieving family."

Nixon was a widely respected member of the community, as Martingayle noted on the radio show.

“She was president of her civic league, she was involved with the swim team... she would have been celebrating her 20th Anniversary next month.” Nixon left behind a husband and three young daughters.

This combination of photos provided by the City of Virginia Beach on Saturday, June 1, 2019 shows victims of Friday's shooting at a municipal building in Virginia Beach, Va. Top row from left are Laquita C. Brown, Ryan Keith Cox, Tara Welch Gallagher and Mary Louise Gayle. Middle row from left are Alexander Mikhail Gusev, Joshua O. Hardy, Michelle "Missy" Langer and Richard H. Nettleton. Bottom row from left are Katherine A. Nixon, Christopher Kelly Rapp, Herbert "Bert" Snelling and Robert "Bobby" Williams. (Courtesy City of Virginia Beach via AP)

Gun rights advocates say armed citizens are important for preventing mass shootings.

“A so-called “gun free zone” does not make people safer, because the only person who’ll have a gun is the person who violates the policy...it’s really a ‘Victim Disarmament Zone’,” Alan Gottlieb, president of the Second Amendment Foundation, told Fox News.

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In Virginia Beach, the murders took place in an area that required an employee keycard to access, so anyone with authorization to enter was required to be disarmed.

Gottlieb says he often hears from public employees who are frustrated that they can’t defend themselves at work.

“I get a lot crossing my desk of employees who work in state or city governments who are upset that they can't bring a gun to work protect themselves and want to know if their rights are being violated," he said. "They contact the Second Amendment Foundation all the time.”

Several groups advocating more restrictions on guns didn't respond to Fox News' request for comment. But such groups have said previously the best way to prevent shootings is additional gun laws. Brady United praised Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam for proposing new bans in the wake of the shooting, “including action on suppressors, a ban on assault weapons, and expansion of local authority to regulate firearms.”

Brady United, in a press release, added they “applauded [Northam’s] announcement, hailing it as an opportunity for Virginia legislators to take action to prevent the next mass shooting.”

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But Gottlieb says allowing civilians to carry is often the best line of defense against mass shootings and decried how long it's taken for Nixon's story to come out.

“Nobody in the media picked up on that," he said, "And quite honestly I would have to assume that’s agenda driven -- a lot of people in the media believe that, you know, firearms are evil, so they wouldn't report on the fact that somebody wanted to have a firearm to protect themselves,"

Maxim Lott is Executive Producer of Stossel TV and creator of ElectionBettingOdds.com. He can be reached on Twitter at @MaximLott.