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Self-Defense Story With a Twist

Defender saved lives, but broke a law?

by
Howard Nemerov

Bio

July 25, 2014 - 3:01 pm

ABC reported:

A psychiatric outpatient opened fire Thursday inside a psychiatrist’s office at a hospital near Philadelphia, killing his caseworker and slightly wounding the doctor, who shot the gunman with his personal firearm, authorities said.

However, what should be a clear-cut case of self-defense may run afoul of that well-meaning but dangerous myth: The Gun-Free Zone.

The hospital has a sign at the entrance to check weapons when entering. ABC says their official policy is that only on-duty law enforcement can carry on the premises.

Here are the problems with pretend-gun-free zones.

Another staff person heard arguing and saw the attacker with a gun. They closed their office door and called 911. This is reasonable. However, it took many minutes until SWAT arrived, and the first thing they did was to evacuate the area and lock it down to make sure there wasn’t another gunman. Fine, they don’t want to be shot, and that’s well and good. I don’t want cops getting shot, either. But the minutes needed to secure the area equate to many shooting victims when an active shooter is present.

The Supreme Court case Castle Rock v. Gonzales proves that police have no duty to protect you, and like any reasoning human being, police entering a danger zone may be inclined to protect themselves first. This is reasonable, because a dead cop can’t protect you.

What ABC conveniently left out was this gem provided by the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Donald Molineux, chief of the Yeadon Police Department, said that if Silverman returned fire and wounded Plotts, he “without a doubt saved lives.”

But the Inquirer also reported that it’s against hospital policy for “anyone other than security guards to carry weapons.”

So, now what happens to the man who risked everything to stop a potential mass murder?

Former civilian disarmament supporter and medical researcher Howard Nemerov investigates the civil liberty of self-defense and examines the issue of gun control, resulting in his book Four Hundred Years of Gun Control: Why Isn’t It Working? He appears frequently on NRA News as their “unofficial” analyst and was published in the Texas Review of Law and Politics with David Kopel and Carlisle Moody.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
"So, now what happens to the man who risked everything to stop a potential mass murder?"

He probably gets fired for violating "company policy".

But a private entity (a hospital) does not establish a legal restriction by declaring a "gun free zone". At the most, a person otherwise legally bearing a gun, can be asked to leave, and charged with trespassing if he refuses. Only a governmental entity, with legislative authority, can establish a "gun free zone" with legal consequences.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (10)
All Comments   (10)
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As they say, it's better to be judged by twelve than carried by six. Perhaps any place that would fire this man for saving lives isn't where he should be working. It for sure also wouldn't be on my list of places to patronize either.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Perhaps any place that would fire this man for saving lives isn't where he should be working.

A fine sentiment but I don't expect it will be a lot of comfort if the doctor winds up in prison for several years as a result of bringing the killer down.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
You are misinformed. The doctor will not prosecuted because the DA has already found his actions to be legal under Pennsylvania law.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
"So, now what happens to the man who risked everything to stop a potential mass murder?"

He probably gets fired for violating "company policy".

But a private entity (a hospital) does not establish a legal restriction by declaring a "gun free zone". At the most, a person otherwise legally bearing a gun, can be asked to leave, and charged with trespassing if he refuses. Only a governmental entity, with legislative authority, can establish a "gun free zone" with legal consequences.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
This is not necessary true. Some states have defined hospitals and other areas as legally gun free zones, which means a carrier IS breaking a law by having a gun in their possession. Other states have defined the willful crossing of a "no guns allowed" sign as an illegal action on its own. That's why it is critical to know each state law when you visit with your weapon.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
Texas 30.06 law. Private establishments can post this sign and it has the force of law. Private business attempt at creating a pretend gun free zone via legal restriction.

https://www.txdps.state.tx.us/internetforms/Forms/CHL-16.pdf

Pages 41-2
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Maybe under Texas law, but the incident didn't happen in Texas.

I believe Pennsylvania law applies.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
You are correct about some states but you wrote it as if were universal. If you meant to just talk about Pennsylvania law you should have made it clear.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
You are correct.

I should have made it clear that private entities cannot establish "gun free" zones with legal effect, unless the state legislatures have delegated the authority for them to do so.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
For certain if it happened to me, in my workplace, I would be fired and charged with a felony.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
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