Some of the thousands private medical offices around the country permit carry, others do not. But the vast majority of hospitals do not. In some states it’s by law, in others by city or institutional policy. The effect is that of placing doctors, nurses and other staff, as well as patients and visitors, at additional risk from the typical occupational hazards. Drug seekers, gangbangers who try to finish off rivals in emergency rooms, domestic abusers have all showed up at hospitals, putting both their targets and bystanders at risk. Sometimes, hospitals have police on hand and the problems get resolved relatively quickly, sometimes they do not. Moreover, every time a visitor or a staff member has to disarm in a vehicle, that increases the risk of an accident. For staff who go to work by public transportation, the prohibition against carry means defenseless travel both ways.
What about the nature of work with this equipment makes its operator incapable of carrying a sidearm? Are physician, explicitly trusted to save lives and to look after their patients’ welfare particularly untrustworthy? Are nurses somehow incapable of exercising good judgement. What is it about the hospital environment that renders all customer and all service providers unworthy of self-defense?
Some hospitals have armed guards and run metal detectors at every entrance, slowing down patients headed into emergency rooms and greatly increasing costs. Others just put up the signs and thus give any violent madman the guarantee of disarmed victims, fish in a barrel.
One factor often cited is the unsuitability of hospital scrubs for supporting weapons. A typical 8oz pocket pistol can ride in a belly bag, a pocket, an IWB or a neck holster, so that’s hardly a compelling argument. Retention issues have been cited, which are solved with level 2 or 3 retention holsters…and by the discretion in the wearing of the gun. Even a crazy patient can’t grab something that’s not visible unless deployed.
I can understand why the Veteran’s Administration hospitals, famous for horrible service and outright abuse of its patients, would be afraid of letting their customers carry. That’s a violation of the veterans’ rights, but at least I can follow their evil and self-serving reasoning. But I do not follow why administrators distrust people who are trusted to operate on patients, to prescribe potentially life-altering medications, and to handle health emergencies competently.
Legally, VA hospitals are considered Federal buildings, and Feds don’t trust anybody to carry… but what about every other hospital in the country? We are slowly coming around on the desirability of lawful people being armed at schools and colleges, why are hospitals excluded from this sensible development? Like schools, hospitals are so central to our lives that eventually most people end up in them, either as patients or as visitors. A few of us work there, and have to decide if having effective means of self-defense and the dignity of self-sufficiency again evil balance against the threats of job loss or criminal prosecution. It’s time we talk about this in public.