A no weapons allowed sign is posted Aug. 13 at The Children's Hospital, Colorado. Aurora and many other municipalities have almost no restrictions on openly carrying firearms in public, whether the person with the gun is a child or whether the gun is loaded. (Marla R. Keown/Aurora Sentinel)

I recently spent some low-quality time in a “gun-free zone”: three trips to my local hospital in two days. Even though I was incapacitated, with IV tubes hanging out of my body, I had a hard time coming to terms with the fact that I had left my preferred mode of self-defense behind. As I lay in the hospital bed listening to the beeps of the machines pumping antibiotics into my veins, I thought about why I’d willingly disarmed. The giant sign on the door proclaiming “NO WEAPONS ALLOWED”  wasn’t what stopped me . . .

The answer is simple enough: I was ill. Very ill. I had a severe infection. My left eye had swollen shut. I couldn’t see well; I was wearing an ice pack on the left side of my face. Could I have used a gun effectively? No. No way. Absolutely not. Did it constantly cross my mind that I was unarmed? Yep. I carry on-body. I missed the reassurance of the cold metal against my skin.

Luckily, conveniently, coincidentally, the hospital police were stationed outside my room. One carried a GLOCK. The other a large revolver. I kept wishing I had my best-metal-friend with me. Even though I knew I was incapable of moving, just knowing it was there in the cubby with my clothes and purse would have made me feel better – even though I wouldn’t have been able to use it.

I eventually came to terms with the fact that it was OK to be unarmed in a “gun-free zone” – when there are armed defenders on-site. Because sometimes we can’t take care of ourselves. Sometimes we have to rely on the kindness – and protection – of strangers. And sometimes that’s OK.

47 Responses to Sara Tipton, Disarmed

      • It should be clarified to be a “Defensive Gun Free Zone”, you people with ill intentions are allowed to bring in a gun for offensive purposes only.

        • It’s actually in reality a “Law-abiding civilian disarmament zone”. That’s exactly what it is. Lawbreakers still carry, and can defend themselves, so it’s still a defensive gun zone. Law-abiding cops can still carry. It’s the law-abiding non-cops who are disarmed. I don’t like using civilian, but non-cop made it sound even more unwieldy.

  1. “Sometimes we have to rely on the kindness – and protection – of strangers. And sometimes that’s OK.”

    I’ve been there, done that…it just that I want to substitute the word “sometimes” with “rarely.”

    Great article, Sara!

  2. The older we get the more we are forced into these decisions, VA Clinic’s, Hospitals are Gun Free and the number of “Protectors” low, (My larger clinic has ONE) I have to have the treatment and care at times. I feel that especially in the government run facilities that my freedoms should not be arbitrarily abridged.

    • It’s not just the civilian community that has to live with these idiotic laws.
      I am retired military and a small arms expert by the military’s definition. I worked for the DoD for almost 10 years after retirement and during those years the policy of the military in general was no concealed carry on base.
      I always considered that to be the stupidest regulation ever enacted. After 9/11 the base police were continually understaffed due to deployments and most bases were soft targets. The number of retired and trained former military personnel that had CCW permits would have provided more security than the overworked base police, who were by then primarily rent-a-cops. The bases would have been more secure even if they had allowed just the undeployed senior active duty military to carry. But that gets back to military intelligence, and in this case I certainly agree with George Carlin, “two words which should never be associated”.

  3. “Sometimes we have to rely on the kindness – and protection – of strangers. And sometimes that’s OK.”

    Because sometimes, we are that person…

    Get well.

    • Yes Tom, sometimes WE strangers are. Feels pretty good being that stranger. Carry on. Get well soon Sara.

  4. Wife just had a baby in the hospital, and I was unarmed for about 40 hours. Didn’t like it. Of course, trying to keep my Glock 17 concealed while helping my wife through contractions and sleeping on a pull-out cot while nurses come in every 4 hours would have been challenging and ill-advised to say the least. Plus that whole illegal area thing (not just trespassing as it is with most other posted places in MO).

    That being said, I know what you mean about missing the metal on your skin. Get well soon!

  5. I hear you Ms. Tipton. A few years ago, right after I got back from Afghanistan and out of the army, I had to have some significant medical procedures. I was still in that phase of constantly feeling like I was forgetting something, and that something was my rifle. (For those of you just redeploying CONUS, buy a rifle and put it somewhere. Know where it is. It will give you tremendous peace of mind just knowing you know where it is.) Anyway, I was really stressing about being in the hospital for only a day or so, unconscious and without any weapons. One of my friends knew about it and came to the hospital with me. I’m a solid 6’1″, and to show off sometimes he walks up behind me and puts his chin on top of my head. He has 32″ thighs, the size of my waist. When he got bored with the Rangers, he became a mercenary in east Africa for a few years, and he carries the facial scars and a bad eye from it (people assume it was from combat but actually from an infection, go fig). He seethes aggression. He didn’t threatened anyone overtly, but he told the surgeon he’d be staying the entire time of my stay. The doctor assured us both I would be out of there and in great shape in no time at all. And I was.
    Customer service pro tip: when unarmed, bring a giant full of barely pent anger and hate.

    • “Customer service pro tip: when unarmed, bring a giant full of barely pent anger and hate.”

      Finally, I’ve found my target demographic! I’m marketable! There’s somewhere for everyone, gosh darn it! It’s feels so warm and fuzzy to be a functioning member of this dysfunctional society… Dammit, where’d all my rage go?

      :-p

  6. I hate to say it, but when hospitals can’t control the theft of opiates they store, I wouldn’t trust them with my weapon while I’m under

    • I think that is the best excuse for the policy, but I bet it wasn’t even considered. If I were a doctor, there, I would be armed, every minute. Remember that shrink in a GFZ who had a fruitcake (occupational hazard for a shrink) bust in and shoot his patient to death, then found a gun somehow and shot the killer, saving his own life. I never heard of him being arrested for that gun, and selective enforcement of any law threatens everyone’s freedom in a major way. “Gun control” would never have gotten any traction with anyone except for the promise of selective enforcement in the mid-19th century, and look at the fight we have today.

      • Hey don’t get me wrong, if you work there, it’s a-ok, I’m just saying that if you’re a patient, you’re going to have to be parted from, or unable to look after, your piece at some point and in a hospital, I’m not okay with that

      • “Remember that shrink in a GFZ…”

        Yep. He had a Seecamp. IIRC, he still has his job there.

  7. With hospitals, is it illegal, or just against policy to carry in the facility? I’m sure it varies by state. I think it is just policy and does not carry the weight of law in my state.

    If it is just policy and not law, as a visitor I’d still want to carry something discreet (my case P3AT/642). As a patient even that may not be possible (although I’d still want one). I still might stash one if possible, assuming I was mentally cogent.

    We take reasonable steps to protect ourselves. Sometimes we can’t, and have to depend on others to protect us. In the end, my hope and trust are in God to be my Shield and Protector.

    • Hospitals are tricky. In Texas, up until about eight years ago, they were statutory gun free zones. Now they’re only so if they declare themselves such, typically by posting signage conforming to the law’s specifications.

      However, some hospitals are extensions of universities. So they’re statutory gun free zones on that basis.

      Some hospitals which aren’t gun free zones, may just happen to be hosting a high school field trip that day. So they’re back to being gun free.

  8. In MS, it’s a matter of signage. Permitted concealed carriers can legally ignore it, but you could be charged with trespassing if you give yourself away and don’t leave when told to.

  9. Every major hospital I can think of in Texas is posted 30.06, something that annoys me to no end. As a contractor, I frequently make site visits to hospitals as part of bidding the work, and it annoys the hell out of me to have to disarm before I enter. In my short time of carrying, I’ve seen no other type of facility more consistently posted. Otherwise, there have been very few times I’ve not been able to carry.

  10. You’re at more risk in a hospital from the super bugs, doctors and the food than you are from a violent criminal. I don’t like to be helpless and dependent on others regardless of my weapons status.

  11. If I get sick enough that I’m taking meds that make me woozy, I lock up my home carry gun, to avoid doing something stupid. When I had appendicitis, I walked to the hospital unarmed, because I expected to be going into surgery (and I was right). But otherwise, if I go to a doctor’s appointment, or hospital, I carry. I also take my computer backpack in with me. If I need to undress, I put the gun in the bag.
    But then, everywhere I’ve lived as a gun owner (AZ & WA) it’s not illegal to carry past a no guns sign. All they can do is ask me to leave and claim trespassing if I refuse.

  12. Whatever. I have carried in a backpack in a hospital here in WA once or twice. Nobody searching my bag? Then they don’t need to know.

  13. I bet any bad guys with a gun,will see that sign and walk away,smh..Gun free zones are such bs..

  14. “just knowing it was there in the cubby with my clothes and purse would have made me feel better – even though I wouldn’t have been able to use it”.

    Congratulations Sara, that one soared directly to or near the top of the TTAG Dumbest Thought Uttered top ten list! A true guano crazy classic. Too funny!

    • We were so close to getting her to post a picture where she is actually smiling, and this comes along.

      😀

      • Rude facts, you terrible, bad, mean rude little facts!

        How many times has the point of “feeling safe” being somewhat different from actually BEING safe been made here? Because she’s female, suddenly that logic does not apply?

        Could have said it differently to one of our own, but it’s no less true… I’m sure she doesn’t like me any more than him… Does that make me wrong, too?

        You mean facts, change yourselves into a fantasy for the pretty lady. She can’t handle reality… Way to go White Knight.

    • Ted are you this rude to all people that support your 2nd Amendment rights, or just the female ones?

  15. Sara, I hope you recover fully and soon. I know the feeling of not having something by your side that is normally there every day. I live in PA and work in NJ, so the carrying of a firearm, or even having it in the car is verboten by NJ law. But I do carry a pocket knife and flashlight all day, every day. If I forget my knife, it’s the same feeling as forgetting my shoes. I sometimes have to remember to leave the knife in my car if entering a gubmint building, or the airport.

  16. I had been out driving (alone) and started having chest pains, so I drove to the local hospital. Right before I left my truck to go in I had presence of mind to remove my EDC firearm and put it in my console safe but couldn’t get my IWB holster off (I was in much pain by then). After they got me in one of the rooms and lifted my shirt to attach the EKG tabs the ER doctor noticed my holster, I just told him I CC and that was my holster…he never missed a step or got excited and continued with my care.

  17. Godspeed and get well soon.

    I routinely carry in hospitals, unless I’m a patient. My Chiropractor just confirmed that he’s ok with me carrying there as well.

  18. I eventually came to terms with the fact that it was OK to be unarmed in a “gun-free zone” – when there are armed defenders on-site. Sometimes we have to rely on protection – of strangers.
    I would not rely on the high speed low drag operators too much. My experience is that you usually are dealing with the Keystone Cops.
    When I was in the hospital I was afraid I was going to die; then I was afraid I was going to live. Maybe the thug would put me out of my misery.

  19. Last year, I was visiting a co-worker in the hospital, and lol and behold it had the “no firearms sign” at the front door. However, I didn’t see any guards or metal detectors, and I wasn’t keen on walking back to my car to disarm. So I just walked in (Concealed) and gave my regards. When my co-worker left the hospital, I told her I had visited while still armed. I said “Just imagine if I was some lunatic bent on shooting up the place, you think that sign out front was going to stop me?” She admitted that it was a stupid policy.

  20. Now there is a sign that is loaded with hope if I ever saw one.
    Maybe it should be in 24 languages just to be sure.

  21. The police are more of a threat that anyone else. Having the enemy right outside the door is quite the opposite of a safe feeling for me.

    Sometimes you’re helpless. It happens… Taking matters into my own hands with an attempted home remedy might seem foolish to many, but it’s less foolish than being helpless in the presence of murdering thugs who’ve sworn an oath to pillage and kill anyone who defies the will of the politicians who own them.

    Unless you’re a hot chick, then you’re probably not so much at risk… They like hot chicks. Even with messed up eyeballs. Animals are predictable.

  22. The hospital she was in was an exception. Many have NO formal security force….the maintenance guys
    are pressed into service for unruly incidents. A large portion of those hospitals with an official security force
    do not allow them to be armed. I doubt if more than 20% of hospitals have armed guards and many of these
    only have one on duty at a time…..and old retired duffer. And armed security is very often merely a source
    for a second gun if a miscreant was so inclined…..just walk up, blow Barney Fife away and take his piece.
    Hospitals are second only to schools in their desire to render people vulnerable to violence.

  23. Anyone who believes it is normal to imagine a firearm as if it were a teddy bear, security blanket, or any other emotional crutch is likely carrying a handgun for all the wrong reasons. A handgun carried for defensive purposes is a tool and nothing more. A handgun tucked away in an unsecured cabinet or drawer that an ill person is incapable of accessing or using is pointless, and a potential bonus for thieves looking for cash or jewelry. There’s a reason that Hospitals instruct patients that valuables should not be left with their personal items in the room, theft of patient belongings from hospital rooms can and does happen. A person so obsessed with firearms to feel the need to be armed while laid up and out of commission in a hospital bed has some disturbing issues.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *