MA Health Care Worker: “Gun Free” Boston Hospitals Not So Safe

TTAG reader RN writes:

There was a man shot at Brigham & Women’s Hospital (Boston, MA) this morning (1/20/15). I first found out about this while checking my work e-mail around 1430. (I work at a different hospital). There were reports on the news on the way home. From what I can determine now, a man went to one of the clinics, asked for a doctor by name, and shot him at close range.  The building was put in lockdown. Police found the suspect, apparently dead by his own hand.  The victim is said to be in critical condition. The email from my hospital’s president was timed at 1313 (it is now 1613). From his letter . . .

Boston Police assure us that a suspect is in custody, and there is no further threat to the Longwood Medical Area.

From an ABC News reports, timed 1353.

Police soon found a man matching the shooting suspect’s description dead in an examining room of what they believe to be a “self-inflicted gunshot wound.”

I guess that a dead guy can be in custody.

More from the president’s letter:

Please know that [hospital’s name] is safe and secure and that our Public Safety and Emergency Management teams are here to respond to this and other kinds of emergencies.

Well, my hospital may be “safe and secure”, but Brigham apparently wasn’t. It’s very reassuring to know that our PS and EM teams are there to respond—after the blood has been spilled. I’m pretty sure that the staff at the Brigham thought that their hospital was “safe and secure”, too.

Screen Shot 2015-03-22 at 3.41.28 PM

This hospital (as, I suspect, most) are “gun-free zones” (in quote for the obvious reasons), as is the one that I just left last spring. The old hospital had an online inservice for the newly-developed “Code Silver” for an “active shooter” (“spree killer” perhaps would be better). The creators of the inservice get a bit of credit because they used the Texas Department of Public Safety video segment (screen shot above) and they lose that credit and more for the note at the bottom:

[our policy] forbids anyone except law enforcement officers from entering our facilities with a gun. This includes persons with concealed handgun permits.

So the cops who find your body will have guns. Good for them. Oh, more subtle inaccuracies from a piece, timed 1609:

One person is suffering life-threatening injuries and another is dead following a shooting inside Brigham & Women’s Hospital, according to authorities.

That certainly makes the situation clear. Or not.

A recurrent subject on TTAG has been carrying concealed at a workplace that forbids such acts. The most common response is: concealed is concealed. With what I carry in my normal street attire, I’m good there.  In my unit, scrubs is the uniform of the day. I couldn’t carry the way I do in street clothes. So my piece is in my locker until I get changed to go home.  Not that helpful should an intruder come into my unit. This event is making me re-think carrying during working hours.

One last item from the ABC News report:

The hospital did not have metal detectors, police said.

Ya think that that would have helped?


  1. avatar Russ Bixby says:

    Well… at least in a hospital the second responders are only seconds away.

  2. avatar Gatha58 says:

    Well of course something like this was bound to happen. Do liberals really think that signs on the doors and a law against bringing a weapon into a hospital will stop someone that is intent on doing harm to someone else? Dream on. This shows a basic flaw in most liberal thinking. That is, thinking that bad guys pay attention to the laws or that these kinds of laws can stop a bad guy. Only in Utopia would that happen. Never in the real world. All that ends up happening is that the good guys are disarmed so it is easier for the bad guys to do their nasty deeds. Will they ever learn ?

    1. avatar Russ Bixby says:

      Do conservatives really believe that abstinence – only inductrination will prevent the genitals of teens from working?

      When will they learn?

      In point of fact, while the DCCC is wrong on guns, that wrongness is hardly limited to them.

      An armed populace scares our owners.

      1. avatar Another Robert says:

        William Raspberry, whom no one will ever mistake for a conservative, said that he did have a problem with some aspects of what we would now call “comprehensive sex education”. Telling kids not to have sex until they were mature and ready to handle the consequences of pregnancy, that such activity was unwise, immoral, and/or possibly dangerous, then spending the rest of the time telling them all about contraceptives, abortion, and non-procreating sexual activities, he said, was rather like telling a kid, “Don’t steal, it’s unwise, immoral, and possibly dangerous; but if you are determined to go ahead and do it, here’s how to do it without getting caught.” You don’t necessarily have to be a conservative, or in your view, incapable of learning, to question the effectiveness of sending out the first part of each message in light of emphasisizing the second.

        1. avatar LarryinTX says:

          Public school health classes should simply forget the judgment calls and stick to the facts. This is how the plumbing works, consult your parents or pastors for advice on when and how to deploy it. Other possibility is to ignore the subject altogether, but I wouldn’t bet on that having a happy result, parents don’t parent much any more. And boys tend to lie to girls!

    2. avatar uncommon_sense says:


      I have heard many gun grabbers say openly that “no gun” signs have no effect on armed criminals. They have simply resigned themselves to the fact that they will be in serious trouble if a violent attacker chooses their “gun free” location.

      Rather, gun grabbers justify “no gun” signs on people who honor such signs. To gun grabbers, such people are prone to negligent discharges or shooting bystanders in a real self-defense situation. Or even worse, such people are prone to fits of rage at which point the nominally “good” person suddenly whips out their handgun and starts shooting people — which would never have happened with a “no guns” sign because that person would not have entered with their handgun.

      Thus, to gun grabbers, they have nothing to lose (they are utterly vulnerable to violent attackers no matter what), and everything to gain (they may reduce negligent discharges, wounded bystanders, and sudden rage casualties).

      I have a pro-gun friend who actually espouses this thinking: he doesn’t want firearms in pre-schools because he thinks there will be more casualties from armed good people than from attackers.

      1. avatar Jonathan - Houston says:

        Regardless the strength of the antis’ argument in that regard, it is still an argument to make. When we focus on sign-ignoring spree killers, we ignore sign-abiding good guys gone bad.

        That transforms their otherwise weak argument about good guy NDs and crimes of sudden passion, into stronger, winning arguments, if only by our forfeit. We need to address that argument with something better than “Well, stuff happens, but at least we’re protected against potential danger”, because antis and fencesitters won’t make that connection.

        They only count the bodies they see and give no credit for potential tragedies averted.

  3. avatar Another Robert says:

    I figure that no one except perhaps some of Shannon Watts’ most empty-skulled followers and a certain percentage of Democrat politicians actually believes that creating “gun-free zones” through law or employer policy is any kind of deterrent to armed criminals. For the politicians it is strictly an exercise in controlling the sheeple. For the private-sector employers I can only conclude that their bean-counters have determined that a liability-creating accident involving a legally-owned firearm is a bigger risk ( as in more likely to occur) than an attack by a criminal or a nut case involving a similar degree of liability. I just wonder if their bean-counters are correct if indeed such is the case.

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      “I figure that no one except perhaps some of Shannon Watts’ most empty-skulled followers and a certain percentage of Democrat politicians actually believes that creating “gun-free zones” through law or employer policy is any kind of deterrent to armed criminals.”

      No, they in no way believe it is a deterrent. And they care not one whit who dies when it happens. To them, it’s a feature, not a bug.

      Their ‘Battle Plan’ is to first let the casualties mount, let the innocent die.

      Then they bleat “See? Nothing is working! We must ban all guns!”

      Like the doctor with a Seecamp a few months back, the employees must ignore the bans the employer puts in place, and carry anyway. Over time it will prove their worth.

      But it will cost some employee’s their jobs in the process.

      1. avatar ozzallos says:

        I really hate to be the voice of pessimism, but I agree to an extent. Nobody could be so stupid as to believe a mere sign will stop gun violence, therefor it is not for them– It’s for you, the lawful gun owner. Whatever for, you ask? First, I’d postulate that it is a form form of social guilt; a reminder that guns are intrinsically evil. A sub-tree of that logic seeks to imply that if every law-biding individual is disarmed inside the stated premises, then the criminals are easily identified as such… Which is horribly flawed in and of itself for reasons to obvious to even bother stating here.

        The second thing I believe gun free zones represents are baby steps. Again, you are the real adversary here. Gun free zone inure the populace into accepting that there are some places that guns are socially unacceptable. Hallowed ground, as it were. If I can get you to accept that, then i have created the foundation for any number of slippery slope justifications to make this area just as gun free as that area, and hey, it’s for the children, right? It works for sporting purpose exemptions for ammunition and it works here, too.

        I’m not so sure these individuals pushing these agendas desire to see blood in the streets, but it is a useful tool and as Geoff said, the ultimate vindication that guns are sentient creatures of destruction capable of warping the minds of men to their own sinister designs of mass murder.

        I actually read a short story like that once.

        1. avatar Rick the Bear says:

          “Again, you are the real adversary here. Gun free zone inure the populace into accepting that there are some places that guns are socially unacceptable. Hallowed ground, as it were”

          Wow. I hadn’t thought of this perspective. Thanks.

        2. avatar LarryinTX says:

          ” then the criminals are easily identified as such…”

          Right! The bad guy is the one who is about to shoot you .. AGAIN!

    2. avatar Bob says:

      “For the private-sector employers I can only conclude that their bean-counters have determined that a liability-creating accident involving a legally-owned firearm is a bigger risk ( as in more likely to occur) than an attack by a criminal or a nut case involving a similar degree of liability. I just wonder if their bean-counters are correct if indeed such is the case.”

      It is a liability-based decision, but the reason is slightly different.

      If an employer allows people to carry guns while in their place of business, then they are liable for any harm those people may do with their gun at their business. If the employer disallows guns on their property, then they are not liable for any harm from a gun, because guns are not allowed.

      Once they have established a policy disallowing some activity, they have no responsibility for what might happen if someone violates that policy. It might not make sense, but that is the way liability laws work.

      1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

        In other words, if an employer claims that something will cost them more money, they can ban it even if it exposes employees to dangerous conditions. Or not.

        An employer who requires an employee to work amidst biohazards requires their employee to work in dangerous conditions. Therefore, the employer has a moral, ethical, and LEGAL obligation to address those conditions: they must provide protective measures (such as gowns, masks, safety glasses, gloves, hazmat suits, etc.) for biohazards — or at least allow employees to provide their own protective measures.

        Why does this standard go out the window when an employer does absolutely nothing to protect employees from violent attackers and, in response, employees wish to be armed to protect themselves?

        Saying it another way, why does the size of the attacker matter? Hospitals provide effective protective equipment to safeguard employees against microscopic attackers (pathogens). Why are hospitals not obligated to provide effective protective equipment to safeguard employees against human size attackers — or at least allow employees to provide their own effective protective measures?

  4. avatar Logan says:

    Of course being able to defend ones self would be the best solution, but if you’re going to get shot, I guess a hospital would be the ideal location.

    1. avatar LarryinTX says:

      True, however hospitals are not the only places with these stupid restrictions.

  5. avatar Sixpack70 says:

    More magical thinking in action.

  6. avatar Pantera Vazquez says:

    Here is the funny thing about gun free zones….Only the law abiding ever get charged. Active shooter comes into hospital or school, kills a few, and does NOT blow his own brains out. The DA begins the process of filing charges, he will go after the homicide charges, public endangerment and a whole slew of others, but one never hears of charges for violating the gun free zone, for you know we need to go after the crimes with actual victims. Interesting how it is not enforced against a criminal Unless of course the arrestee is just a CWP holder who committed the unforgivable crime of forgetting to rid him/herself of their legally owned and carried sidearm before going into the supposed sanctuary. Because law abiding CWP holders are the real danger here………..

    1. avatar Rick the Bear says:


      “but one never hears of charges for violating the gun free zone”

      Good point!

    2. avatar Bob says:

      Is that really true? I mean I totally think prosecutors are capable of this, but is there a real-life example (link)?

  7. avatar Hannibal says:

    “Well, I always say if you’re gonna get shot, do it in a hospital.”

  8. avatar Jay in Florida says:

    What if for some reason as a concealed weapons permit holder and Im taken to the hospital for an injury.
    Am I supposed to give my gun to someone to hold??
    Providing Im able too.
    I think not.
    What if Im not able to??
    So then I will be brought in on a gurney and they find my gun as Im being treated.
    Do I then get arrested too??
    Decisions decisions.
    How about not voluntarily ever going to a hospital.
    That sounds good to me.
    Fact is when I had my last motorcycle accident and was brought in unconscious.
    I was given my gun back upon my discharge from the hospital.
    More paperwork to get my gun back then to be treated at the hospital.

    1. avatar Mark N. says:

      You will not be arrested, but they will take your gun and lock it up somewhere.

    2. avatar Geoff PR says:

      “Am I supposed to give my gun to someone to hold??
      Providing Im able too.
      I think not.
      What if Im not able to??”

      My pop had surgery a few months back here in Florida. During check-in, one of the security guys handed him a large envelope. His effects were inventoried on the outside of the envelope, stuffed inside and then sealed.

      A few hours later during discharge another security guy handed him the envelope back and the contents were checked against the list.

      Jay, this is Florida. Guns on people is plenty common on the street and in hospitals. I doubt they will make phone calls and search serial numbers for every gun they see.

  9. avatar Mark N. says:

    So let me ask the obvious: In this particular case, this was not a random shooting, but a targeted attack. Even if a security guard had been standing right there, or had the doctor been armed, as some are, would the doctor have had time to draw and outshoot the man who took him by surprise? I think that the proposition is doubtful. The doctor who shot his assailant at the psych ward was the second target, and he too was wounded. Here, the doctor was apparently shot in the face at close range, and had no reason to suspect that he was about to be victimized; to suspect wildly (I watch TV sometimes), the doctor was shot because one of his patients died, and this was a distraught relative. It seems likely he even had he had a gun, it could not have prevented the incident.

    1. avatar Rick the Bear says:

      Mark N,

      “It seems likely he even had he had a gun, it could not have prevented the incident.”

      He would have ha a chance. WIth current policy, he had no chance.

    2. avatar Mark says:

      At this point we don’t know what happened before the bad guy pulled the trigger. Maybe he ran in with the firearm and immediately shot. Maybe he had an argument (more probably a rant towards the victim) for a short time before pulling the trigger. Psychologically don’t these types of nut jobs like to make their victim know why they’re about to be shot and who is about to do it………or is that only in the movies?

      1. avatar Rick the Bear says:

        “At this point we don’t know what happened before the bad guy pulled the trigger.”

        The reports say that the killer went to the office (clinic?) and asked for the doctor by name.

    3. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      Mark N.

      A determined assassin will almost always succeed no matter what security measures the victim applies.

      Likewise, a spree killer will almost always manage to kill at least one person no matter what security measures someone applies.

      As we have pointed out before, a firearm is NOT a magic talisman that guarantees the life and health of the bearer and/or those around the bearer. A firearm is merely an effective tool that enables people on scene to respond quickly and decisively to an attacker.

    4. avatar Geoff PR says:

      ” It seems likely he even had he had a gun, it could not have prevented the incident.”

      Pissed-off people want to see fear in the eyes of whom they kill. Call it a Hollywood syndrome.

      “My name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die.”

      Draw and return fire and let *him* prepare to die.

      1. avatar LarryinTX says:

        What if he is not left-handed?

        1. avatar Rick the Bear says:

          And with 6 fingers on one hand?

        2. avatar Geoff PR says:

          Details…It’s always those pesky details…

  10. avatar JoeVK says:

    I work at a parts store. Employees aren’t permitted possess a firearm on the property, even if it’s left in their vehicle, or if we stop by on a day off wearing regular clothes. It’s instant termination. Customers are ok, however. I’ve handled a couple of customer’s firearms at the counter (probably also a big “no-no”). But the dress code makes it nearly impossible to carry concealed anyway. Shirts have to be tucked in at all times. I suppose during the winter, a light jacket could be worn, but we’re constantly reaching for parts on shelves and such, so it would wind up being exposed. They only ways I can think of effectively sneaking one in would be in an ankle rig, or a bigass phone pouch hooked to my pants (or belt). Oh, and having to carry heavy parts around a lot makes pocket carry, even in a holster, kinda iffy for me.

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      The NAA mini has a wallet holster available. From the outside, it looks like a wallet.

      The 2-shot flat Hi-Standard derringer is also an option.

      There is a ‘wallet’ holster for it, that is illegal if you can fire it in the wallet holster.

    2. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      I see four options for you:
      (1) A SmartCarry “holster” may be workable. It is a flat pouch made of stiff canvas-like fabric that enables you carry a handgun behind the zipper of your pants. Drawing from a SmartCarry holster is surprisingly easy and fast — and amazingly effective concealment.
      (2) Off-body carry is better than nothing. You might be able to keep a handgun relatively close to you in a backpack, computer bag, or briefcase.
      (3) Count on protection from armed patrons. The possibility of armed patrons likely deters some attackers. And an armed patron could intervene during an actual attack.
      (4) Find new employment that is compatible with some form of on-body concealed carry.

    3. avatar LarryinTX says:

      Bigass phone pouch, also called a SneakyPete holster. LCP is easy, LC9 not bad. Only problem would be your employer might know what it is, though many people think they’re for some manner of iphone/ipad.

  11. avatar Dan says:

    Hospitals are like schools in that they are ‘gun free zones’ with that arbitrary edict enforced with the most
    ruthless method possible….loss of job and income…. for employees who violate this rule. Of course the
    hospitals, just like schools…..have NO WAY of keeping armed people out of the building. Schools have the
    option of ‘locking down’….at least a symbolic gesture towards safety. Hospitals are open to the public for at
    least12 hours or more every day……with absolutely no method of controlling who enters and what they may
    possess. While most larger hospitals ( 100 or more beds) have some form of security many, perhaps the
    majority mandate these ‘security people’ not carry firearms. Most smaller hospitals simply cannot afford a
    formal security force and the job is relegated to the men in maintenance/engineering or in some cases the
    overhead ‘code’ paging system where a disturbance is paged with a color code overhead by PA and all
    male employees are supposed to respond to the problem……which in the case of an active shooter merely
    creates a target rich environment. Small rural hospitals basically have zero security…..not even video surveillance, they are lucky if they have a ‘panic’ button in ER that connects to the sheriff’s dispatch.

    So far hospitals in America have only seen sporadic limited violence usually related to someone who is
    unhappy with their care or the care of a relative….and they usually target a specific person or persons.
    It is of course only a matter of time till we have a massive incident with a very large body count of highly
    trained difficult to replace medical professionals who will have been sacrificed on the altar of politically
    correct citizen disarmament. And the criminal administrators, legal advisors and risk management fools
    will pontificate and make lots of noise about the tragedy but will never ever reconsider their policy of forcing
    people to work in a ‘gun free’ zone and will also refuse to implement EFFECTIVE methods of protecting
    the facilities they allegedly serve.

    1. avatar LarryinTX says:

      You forgot! They will also instantly demand more extensive gun control! The more dramatic the failure, the more dramatic the needed increases in counterintuitive restrictions.

  12. avatar Grindstone says:

    Concealed may be concealed, but when you work on a military base and do get searches conducted more than the rare occasion, it doesn’t give one much choice in my line of work. I just take rest in the fact that I’m behind five layers of controlled access and the emergency exit is a mere 5′ away.

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