Sunday, June 16, 2019

A tale of two gun-free zones
by Robert A. Waters

On the night before DeWayne Craddock murdered eleven people, Kate Nixon debated whether to take her pistol to work the following day.  According to The Virginia-Pilot, Nixon feared Craddock.  She was his supervisor at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center, and told her husband the disgruntled employee “gave off ‘real bad vibes’ and she’d had to write him up several times for issues with performance and attitude.”  

Nixon decided against taking her firearm because the building had been designated a “gun-free zone.”  She chose to obey her agency’s policy while Craddock chose not to.  Sadly, Nixon became one of the gunman’s victims.

Five years earlier, Dr. Lee Silverman faced a similar decision.

A psychiatrist at Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital in Darby, Pennsylvania, Silverman dealt with dangerous patients. The most dangerous of all was Richard Plotts.  However, Mercy Fitzgerald also had a “no firearms” policy.  Leaving for work on the morning of July 24, 2014, Silverman, who had a concealed carry permit, decided his own safety mattered more than words on the outside of a building.

Later that day, Plotts and his caseworker, Theresa Hunt, arrived for a meeting with Dr. Silverman.  The ex-con had had numerous confrontations with law enforcement, and served five years in prison for robbing a bank.  As a convicted felon, Plotts was prohibited by law from owning a weapon. 

His ex-wife told reporters that he’d been committed to mental institutions three times.  “He was violent, physically and mentally,” she said.  “He has threatened to kill me.  He’s been violent to my family—parents, siblings—and he’s just never been a very good person.”  A neighbor called him “a creep.”

As Plotts and his caseworker met with Dr. Silverman, the troubled man suddenly pulled out a .32-caliber revolver, placed it against Hunt’s head, and squeezed the trigger.  She fell dead on the floor.  Silverman ducked behind his desk and pulled his own gun from his pocket.  Plotts opened fire on the doctor, and Silverman shot back, emptying his weapon.  The district attorney told reporters that “we believe 12 shots were fired that day.”

Silverman suffered a graze wound to his head and was shot in the hand.  Three rounds struck Plotts.  Hearing gunshots, two staff members helped subdue the shooter.  After recovering from his wounds, the gunman was tried, convicted of first-degree murder, and sentenced to life in prison.

It turned out that Plotts had 39 rounds left.  If Silverman had not taken his gun to work that day, the deranged mental patient would likely have murdered additional victims.  

Administrators of many formerly gun-free organizations have now realized that a lack of security can no longer be tolerated.  Be it contracted security guards, off-duty law enforcement officers, or citizens with permits to carry (i.e., church members, school teachers and staff, etc.), some form of armed security in all public buildings is a necessity.

A recent church shooting illustrates the wisdom of having armed resistance.  At the Maypole Avenue Church of Christ in Chicago, a stranger burst into the Wednesday night Bible study.  Senior minister Gerald Walker described what happened: “We are shocked and saddened at the tragic events of March 28, 2018.  Saints were gathered to increase their knowledge and understanding of the word of God when an unknown intruder, a product of society’s ills, disrupted the focus of our Wednesday night bible class with gunfire.  We are unsure of his motives but he was unsuccessful in his attempted mission.”

WGN News reported that Kenneth Baines was “immediately confronted by a 57-year-old security guard, who is a concealed carry cardholder.”  The guard, shot in the shoulder, managed to shoot the gunman several times.  A severely wounded Baines fled the scene but was quickly captured by police.  News reports stated that Baines entered the church to commit a robbery.

Pastor Walker spoke for the feelings of many when he wrote: “What a commentary it is when you have to have armed security to worship the Lord.”

Yet that is exactly the sensible thing to do. 

Robert A. Waters is the author of six books, including his latest, written with co-author Sim Waters, Guns and Self-Defense: 23 Inspirational True Crime Stories of Survival with Firearms.   

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