VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A Department of Public Works employee is hoping a petition will help change a policy that prohibits city employees from having guns at work.
Vincent Smith, a Division Manager for the Virginia Beach Department of Public Works, is restarting his efforts after being inside Building 2, the day a gunman killed 12 and injured 4 others.
He is hoping to start the conversation with City Council as to eventually allow employees who are licensed and trained to operate a firearm, to conceal carry in the workplace.
“About four years ago, I started the petition,” Smith said. “After a year I had collected 259 signatures. The website (Change.org), unfortunately, closed the website due to inactivity. I moved onto some other things and it sort of took a back seat and I deal with the guilt from that now.”
Last Tuesday, Smith told City Council one of the people to sign his petition the first time was contractor Herbert Snelling. He was one of the victims of the May 31 shooting.
“One would say that the general public doesn’t feel safe going into a building where the employees are armed, but Bert felt different and unfortunately, he did lose his life that day,” Smith said.
Snelling would have been allowed to carry a gun into Building 2 the day of the shooting, as he was not a city employee.
Last week, the council decided not to back a piece of proposed state legislation that would allow localities to ban guns and ammunition outright from buildings owned and used by local government.
Several residents who support an all out ban say allowing more guns will only add to confusion in active shooting situations.
Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer indicated, along with other council members, that it is too soon to act.
“My fear is that if we have this type of conversation, we are going to wind up further polarized and nothing is going to happen, like it happened in so many cities in this country,” Dyer said last week.
As of Monday night, the petition had nearly 900 signatures.
“10,000 [signatures] is a nice goal,” Smith said. “It’s a nice goal to say this is enough.”