During a recent visit to the Yuma Regional Medical Center (YMRC) for my daily dose of high powered intravenous antibiotic (pneumonia), I struck up a conversation with a health care professional. The subject turned to active shooters and the hospital’s general vulnerability to armed aggressors.

The health care professional did a good job, and I complemented her. She said she had a lot of practice. I agreed that performance on nearly everything improves with practice, but some people are just naturals at some tasks.

I gave the example of a young man I took dove hunting. With very little practice, he was hitting as well as I was after 50 years of wing shooting. He’s a natural.

The health care professional told me she’d been to the range recently. She could make head shots with her .380 Smith and Wesson. Then she complained about the restrictive anti-self defense policy of YRMC. She wished that she could have her pistol with her at work, but she was forbidden to do so by corporate policy.

“If there was an active shooter here, we would be sitting ducks,” she said. “Maybe we could run and hide, but we have patients that cannot. If I had my pistol, they wouldn’t get by me.”

We talked a little more about her pistol, magazine capacity, weight, and triggers.

The conversation was unsolicited. I do not wish to get this dedicated professional into trouble. Retaliation is not unknown in such situations, even for such innocuous things as casual conversation about corporate policy. Maybe more so for a non-profit.

My observation: many health care professionals are competent with firearms. It follows from their enhanced desire to help people. They don’t want the patients in their care to be undefended.

Speaking of undefended citizens, I’m heading off to Australia. I’ll be writing about Australian gun culture while I am there.

©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included. Gun Watch

46 Responses to A Conversation with a Disarmed Health Professional

  1. I work in a hospital where firearms are prohibited. ( don’t know if it’s a law in Michigan or just company policy ) I often think about what an easy soft target it would be. We have security guards but they are not armed either so they would be of no use against an armed attacker.

    • No law in Michigan. Most hospitals are private so can make their own rules. A public hospital in Michigan can’t lawfully prohibit firearms.

        • My apologies. I only OC and occasionally I forget that there are people who CC.

      • Wrong. Kentucky law changed not too long ago where guns could lawfully be carried on the premises as well. However, I can’t carry at the hospital I work at without termination. Why? Well, they make you sign a contract to work there. No sign, no job. Part of that contract, no weapons. Also can’t smoke in my vehicle on the grounds, all due to that contract. KY law protects me to do whatever I want in my car as it’s my property, however the contract subverts that. KY is also a fire at will state…

        With that said, keeping a gun in the car on the premises has never been an issue. I’m sure administration “frowns” on it and could make it an issue but they haven’t. I know this because our parking lot was recently targeted by robbers and several employees lost guns from their vehicles, which they left unlocked. I also happened to be the guy that saw the robbers and ran them off before alerting security ALL because I was headed out on a smoke break lol. Tickles me to this day

        • I’m very grateful we have a law in Fl that protects us from employers barring any prohibition on a weapon in your vehicle. They can’t prohibit it, they can’t fire you if they find out, they can’t make it a condition of employment, they can’t even ask.

        • Klause: I only wish that law applied to MY workplace here in the Gunshine State. But there are several exemptions to that (places where explosives are used/stored, critical defense infrastructure, and many others), several of which apply to my place of employment. I struggle every day with the decision… do i risk legal consequences? Or risk my life? So great that out benevolent overlords put us in such a situation…

  2. “Speaking of undefended citizens, I’m heading off to Australia. I’ll be writing about Australian gun culture while I am there.”

    While you’re at it, do a little piece on bigfoot, unicorns, and the rest of the nonexistent wonders of the world.

      • Soon enough, we will be able to carry swords here in Texas, as it should be. Now if we could just carry sticks.

        • I’d say it’s fine. Right up to the Court of Criminal Appeals (as long as someone paid me all the way up). Basically the law is that sticks are illegal if it was designed with hitting someone in mind (or maybe if you plan on hitting someone with it).

          “‘Club’ means an instrument that is specially designed, made, or adapted for the purpose of inflicting serious bodily injury or death by striking a person with the instrument, and includes but is not limited to the following:
          (A) blackjack;
          (B) nightstick;
          (C) mace*;
          (D) tomahawk.”

          “(a) A person commits an offense if the person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly carries on or about his or her person a handgun, illegal knife, or club if the person is not:
          (1) on the person’s own premises or premises under the person’s control; or
          (2) inside of or directly en route to a motor vehicle or watercraft that is owned by the person or under the person’s control.”

          *Does this make anyone else want a mace?

        • Well, from personal experience:
          My Cold Steel Irish Walking Stick has been my daily companion for over a decade (dropped, kicked, run over by a forklift, chewed on by horses and floated down the Guadalupe – looks it too, but still with me). It’s never so much as turned the head of any cop who saw me confidently striding along with it.
          The only comments I ever get about it are curious inquiries and admiration – but to be fair, maybe I just “look” like I need a cane… huh, that’s not so good, is it?

        • “A shillelagh (/ʃᵻˈleɪli/ shi-LAY-lee or /ʃᵻˈleɪlə/ shi-LAY-lə; Irish: sail éille [ˈsalʲ ˈeːl̠ʲə], “thonged willow”) or blackthorn stick is a wooden walking stick and club or cudgel, typically made from a stout knotty stick with a large knob at the top, that is associated with Ireland and Irish folklore.” – Wikipedia. Definitely a club.

        • I own a hard wood hook cane, one of those old farmers canes I bought from A rural supply store.
          I have a handicap placard for my car.
          The other place you can find such canes is martial arts studios.

          Just say’n.

        • Where I live I open carry a 110 Buck Knife, a canister of pepper spray, and that Hook cane.
          I concealed carry, either a Judge, .45 1911, or a snub nose .357 revolver.

          If I am attacked.. it is and will be my “intent” to use any item, whether listed above or in the environment to fight the attack off.

          The fact that many Politicians are silly about definition of weapons.. doesn’t change their ability to use as tools for defense.

          NOT that I disagree with you and your concern.. it is just that I can say out loud what others may only be able to think about. If they Have thought about it.

        • I’m just sayin’ that if is something that can be easily taken as “not a weapon” by the average person, then the best evidence that you knew it was designed as a weapon is you saying so. If the government can’t show it was meant to be a weapon, then it isn’t a club. Additionally, you have to recklessly carry a weapon before it is a crime. If an object is apparently not a weapon, but is a weapon, then the “club” would probably only be negligently carried.

  3. Hi Dean,

    I’m at airport about to head home to Australia. What part are you heading for?

    V – the dozen different firearms at home plus the ones I bought in USA this trip beg to differ about there being no firearms at all.

  4. Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership supports medical staff exercising their second amendment rights in their workplace.
    Our Membership Director, Dr. John Edeen, has written about just how vulnerable hospital staff are at work.
    I encourage all medical personnel (physicians, pharmacists, chiropractors, dentists, nurses, paramedics, etc) to look at our website (drgo.us). Consider joining us and becoming a member advocate in your community and workplace.

    Arthur Z Przebinda. MD
    Project Director
    DRGO

  5. Safe travels and have fun Dean. Generally, I have thumbed my nose at my employers’ taboos on concealed carry. None ever found out.
    In a hospital, I would find some kind of fanny pack in pastel scrubs colors to carry. A lot of other items can be carried that are necessary to patient care, so others will deem it innocuous. I’ve seen 2 ER Doc’s who carried this way.

    • Greg makes a good point, Dean.

      Concealed means concealed, and nurses can find ways of discreetly carrying.

      I feel for you making that 16 hour plus flight. Move around a bit every few hours so you don’t get clots…

  6. In addition to gun culture, I hope Dean reports on the broader subject of self defense in Australia. In the US, you are permitted to defend yourself with force. That includes deadly force if you are threatened with serious injury or death. Some things I have read make me suspect that’s not an option in Australia. What, for example, would have been the legal position of the Lindt Cafe hostages had they jumped Man Haron Monis and badly injured or killed him?

    Hospitals have sharp items (e.g. scalpels and hypodermic needles) that can be utilized when more effective weapons are unavailable. Even a pencil jammed into an attacker’s throat or eye socket will give him something to think about besides murder.

  7. “She wished that she could have her pistol with her at work, but she was forbidden to do so by corporate policy.”

    So am I, and I work in a store selling guns. Guess what? I don’t give a shit about their corporate policy. I have a policy of my own, which includes corporate kissing my ass.

    • Going to go out on a limb and say you’re in an entirely different situation. Getting fired from a retail job for policy violation is different than getting fired from a licensed medical job. One, you won’t get blackballed at every other potential job local to you, and two you won’t have you licensensure put under review, suspended, or terminated.

      Easy to tell corporate to kiss your ass when the result isn’t life-altering. Pissing off the wrong people in a healthcare setting opens you up to ALL KINDS of consequences, just a matter of how creative they’re willing to get.

    • Might want to get a job with a Gun Store that is more 2nd friendly. Central Texas Gun Store in Austin has all their employees Open Carry.
      Smart!

    • I just have to ask. Ralph, what kind of gun store prohibits you from carrying @ work?
      We get laughed at if we don’t carry here.

  8. One need not travel all the way to Australia to be disarmed. I regularly travel from VA to NJ to see my 96 year old WWII veteran Dad. Disarmed in America. I have been in Bahrain for the past two months. Obviously disarmed. But every 30 days we go to Dubai to reset our visas and since we travel light, without checked luggage, I can’t even take my knife. Then I feel really naked. Get well Dean and enjoy your travels.

  9. I have worked in two facilities (one in the northeast and the other in the south) where registered nurses were packing heat against policy.

    One instance was the ER and the other a Ortho unit.

    Armed healthcare professionals are present and quiet at many city hospitals.

  10. If you are making a trip to Australia, call in at Malabar range on Saturday afternoon for the service rifle match.

    Also present will be the editor of Guns Australia and representatives of a number of the local shooting groups.

    Check our calendar at mrca.com.au .

  11. As others have said the subject of conceal carry in the hospital is a controversial one
    My hospital also forbids concealed carry and has no security guards at all
    I wear scrubs at work, and have opted for off body carry in an IPad case
    I carry the IPad with me everywhere and none of my co workers ( who are all gun enthusiasts) would ever touch my IPad
    I am certain that others in the o r also carry
    We are all risking being fired and being reported to the state licensing board if found out

  12. “. . . some people are just naturals at some tasks. . . . . With very little practice, he was hitting as well as I was after 50 years of wing shooting. He’s a natural.”

    I’m delighted – finally – to see someone say/write this. It’s obviously true for so many tasks; but if you read the gun blogs you would think that gun-fighting is something that necessarily requires continuous training (BEYOND the reach of the ordinary civilian). We PotG are shooting ourselves in the foot.

    We are emphasizing to the open-minded voter that only a handful of really well-trained professionals (i.e., those who ware blue uniforms) can be trusted carrying guns. WE know that a blue uniform implies nothing about talent or training in guns. WE know that – in fact – not all cops in Lake Woebegone are above average in their shooting skills. Nevertheless, we persist in supporting this misconception by INSISTING that “training matters” and that it is ONLY TRAINING that matters.

    So, just why is it that the open-minded voter should buy-into the idea that a busy mom/nurse/teacher could safely carry and use a gun (if necessary) based on above-average talent + a modicum of training.

    I’m not discounting the value of training and practice. These ARE valuable. Yet, they are a political trap if we fail to emphasize that there are some who can carry and use guns safely with either very little training+practice and others who could do so with a modest amount.

  13. Some of the comments here (regarding health care professionals carrying in hospitals where arming oneself is forbidden) make me wonder if the anti-gun side (who I believe monitors the TTAG site) will tip off hospital administrators, who might just begin conducting unannounced searches… One must be careful what one says and where one says it, even amongst like-minded folks.

  14. I am all for armed security guards but having hospital employees all running around with guns is absurd. When you factor in the average person “is not an experienced gun person” and the fact that with striker fired weapons being all the rage and the majority of them also have no manual safeties you are creating a perfect place for an accidental shooting or should I say multitudes of accidental shootings. Its a ridiculous idea. I have seen people drop guns and they went off. I have seen people holster guns and they went off. I have seen people have their guns fall out of their holsters and some went off. When people are doing physical work all of the above are very likely to happen. You are way less likely to get killed in a mass shooting as opposed to getting killed by someone mishandling a firearm. I have never been in a mass shooting but came close too many times to getting killed by careless people handling firearms. I often shutter when I think of all the times in my life this has happened.

    Fact. Chances of getting killed by a refugee terrorist 1 in 47 million

    Chances of getting killed by illegal immigrant terrorist 1 in 39 million

    Chances of getting killed by a Visa Waver program immigrant Zero. to date.

    In 2013 there were 106,000 deaths and injuries by firearms.

    Nuff said as if everyone in the hospital was armed your way more likely to be accidentally killed by them not by a intruder.

    • If you’ve almost been killed by careless people so many times, maybe you need to stop hanging out with negligent and irresponsible people. I suggest finding some conservative or libertarian friends.

      As for your facts…fine. Sure, the odds are incredibly low. But the consequences of not being prepared are incredibly severe. As in fatal.

      If you’re okay with playing the long odds against ever needing self-defense, fine. The rest of us on TTAG tend to look at the fatal consequences of being that unlucky one in 39 million (or the unlucky one in a million who ends up facing a more mundane violent criminal), and hedge against it.

      As for accidental firearm injuries and deaths, look up the numbers. The likelihood of dying that way is just as low as getting killed by a terrorist or mass murderer. You take the same risk either way.

    • You’re all for nothing whatsoever, cisco kid. What’s actually absurd are all of your patent lies about an armed public, which is quite literally every single solitary post you’ve ever made here. And probably elsewhere, too. When you factor in the fact that average people with little or no formal training at all still manage to successfully defend themselves with startling regularity, and that goes well above and beyond the anecdotal evidence proffered here, and the mathematical fact that accidental shootings are still in decline despite the total number of gun owners and guns in circulation still going up, you have no argument to make on that to begin with. No, no you don’t. Your ideas are what’s actually ridiculous. I rightly doubt you’ve ever actually seen a gun with your own two eyes outside of a museum, anyway.

      Fact. Chances of defending yourself with a gun on any given day, about 1 in 5,800 to 1 in 110 depending on whose estimate you choose.

      Chances of getting accidentally shot on any given day, about 1 in 1,000,000 according to the CDC’s WISQARS.

      THAT is enough said, and you’re actually still far and away much, much more likely to be defended by an armed staffer than be shot by them or an intruder. THAT is what every piece of available data says, regardless of its source, and THAT is why you are now, have always ever been, and shall be for the foreseeable future, categorically wrong on every conceivable level.

      • If you ever come down off of your “fantasy world drug high” and face reality the real truth is I have seen members of our club who shoot every week do some very stupid things with guns. When you factor in that the average hospital staff member has never even seen a gun up close and you advocating they all carry guns is the height of absolute stupidity which you certainly excel in (the only thing you ever excelled in).

  15. I work in the Houston medical complex and routinely have to park my piece in the glove box. Although the weapon restriction probably covers the pocket knife in my pocket, it’s still better than nothing. I think I could probably feign ignorance if I had to. Would much rather carry (even concealed), but will likely never happen.

  16. I’m having trouble thinking of a place where people would be more vulnerable. Even school children can flee or be ushered away, but a bunch of incapacitated people in their hospital beds would be sitting ducks. Hell, consider what someone could do at the nursery.

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