Virginia Beach Shooter: Law Abiding, Handguns, Former Member of the N.G, Black

Virginia Beach Municipal Building 2 from Google Maps

The mass murder in Virginia Beach took place in Virginia Beach Municipal Building 2. Notice the elevated entrance, which prevents drive in car bomb attacks.

The mass murder in Virginia Beach took place inside a secured location. The people inside were forbidden from possessing defensive firearms. It was a gun free zone. The shooter, who worked at that location, had an electronic pass which gave him easy access to the gun free zone.

Coverage of this event was different than previous mass murders in the United States.  I mentioned, in an email, that something was different about this event. It took a little while to determine what was different. One thing different is the police decided to focus on the victims rather than on the killer.  The decision is a positive development. From the nymag:

Police Chief Cervera said, when he released the shooter’s name, that the police would not continue using it in order to keep the focus on the victims. Authorities have not released a photo of Craddock, who is black.

The shooter had no criminal record beyond a single traffic offense, and served in the Virginia National Guard from 1996 to 2002, when he was discharged at the rank of specialist.

I and numerous others have been advocating for reform of media coverage of these events for years. Limiting the coverage of the killer and focusing on the victims are part of the suggested reforms. The purpose of the reforms is to reduce the copycat effect, also known as media contagion. One study, presented at the American Psychological Association, found irresponsible media coverage may be doubling the number of mass killings.

One immediate thought occurred with reduced media coverage. It was that the killer was a minority. For decades, the media deliberately withheld the race of criminals. The lack of reporting became so bad, the common wisdom is, if a perpetrator’s race is not mentioned, they are a minority.

The old media has the incentive to downplay the race of this killer. It contradicts their narrative that mass killers are always white men.

The killer used only handguns, not a semi-automatic rifle. The Supreme Court ruled that the ownership of handguns in the home is a core Constitutional right, protected by the Second Amendment. Those who wish a disarmed population have been working hard to claim that semi-automatic rifles are not protected by the Second Amendment, because they have been used in mass murder. The use of handguns in this mass killing undercuts that narrative. It illustrates that rifles are *not* uniquely suited or necessary for mass murder.

There has been some attention to the killer’s reported use of a suppressor. The use of suppressors in criminal acts is very rare in the United States, and in the world.

The shooter used two .45 caliber handguns. Reportedly, one of them had a suppressor.

Later in the nymag article, it is noted the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, more correctly, BATFE), reported the pistols used in the attack were obtained legally.

On Saturday, an ATF official said that Craddock had legally purchased both of the .45-caliber handguns he used in his attack — one in 2016 and the other in 2018. Police found two more weapons in a search of his home, and the one they have identified records for was also purchased legally. Craddock also used a sound suppressor, or silencer, in the attack, as well as extended capacity magazines.

Details of the suppressor have not been released. There are numerous fake suppressors on the market, and it is difficult, without testing, to know if something that looks like a suppressor actually has any significant effect on lowering the decibel level of the firearm it is attached to. The BATFE has reported the shooter legally purchased the two .45 caliber handguns used in the attack. A legal suppressor would have a serial number and a model. It is interesting the BATFE has not been able to report if the suppressor was legally acquired.

A legal suppressor would have required a background check, fingerprints, and a waiting time of months, as required by the federal level regulations of the National Firearms Act (NFA).

BATFE records for NFA items are notoriously unreliable, but it boggles the imagination that they could not determine the legal status of a suppressor, in the hands of authorities, in two days.  At a minimum, you would think the shooter’s name and address would be readily available in the BATFE NFA records.

There have been previous mass shooting situations where the shooter was reported to be wearing body armor, which later turned out to be simple magazine carriers. Future reporting should reveal details on whether the suppressor was real or fake, legal or illegal.

Suppressors are not difficult to make. The shooter was an engineer. I know people who have made their own suppressors outside of U.S. jurisdiction. It is not rocket science. One was an illiterate Panamanian. The other was a U.S. military member.

Societies where suppressors are sold over the counter without any paperwork, for cash, such as New Zealand, have not reported any significant level of criminals using suppressors.


About Author Dean Weingarten:Dean Weingarten

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

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