My last patient was carrying a gun. Scary-looking biker type, complete with beard, bandanna and leathers.
I saw him hand the state trooper his Louisiana Concealed Handgun Permit along with his driver’s license, just like he’s supposed to.
The trooper’s reaction?
He asked my patient if he was currently carrying, which my patient answered in the affirmative. “Fair enough,” the trooper shrugged. “You don’t go for yours, I won’t go for mine.”
When I started to remove his leather vest and riding jacket, the guy told me, “I’ve got a pistol in my left inner vest pocket.”
Other than to think, “Won’t do you much good there if you need to get it out quick,” I was okay with it.
“Is it holstered or just in the pocket?” I wanted to know. “Anything in the pocket with it that might snag the trigger?”
“Nope,” he grunted, grimacing as I splinted his arm. “It’s in a pocket holster.”
“Fair enough,” I allowed, stashing his leathers on the pass-through shelf behind my captain’s chair. “I’ll have to turn it over to hospital security when we get to the ED. You’ll get it back when you’re discharged.”
The guy said little else, spending the rest of the trip wrapped in the sweet, sweet embrace of Fentanyl.
When we got to the ED, I told the charge nurse, “Might want to radio security. We’ve got a weapon to secure.”
Charge nurse shrugged, held out one hand for the man’s leathers, and keyed the radio mike with the other.
As we wheeled our patient to his room, the charge nurse nonchalantly thumbed the cylinder latch and unloaded the weapon. Gun and five rounds went in a Zip Loc specimen bag on the desk next to the computer where the nurse was charting.
Another nurse walked by and peered at it. “Smith & Wesson 642,” he grunted in approval. “Got one just like it in stainless in my truck console outside.”
Security guard ambled up, took possession of the weapon, briefly jotted down an inventory receipt and had the nurse witness it, and moseyed back to his office to finish watching his television program.
No cops were called. No pants were shat. No one treated the weapon as if it were radioactive. A couple of patients’ family members were standing nearby, and witnessed the whole exchange. I can’t be sure, but one of them might have yawned.
It was a non-event.
And why should it be anything but? What’s the big deal about a guy exercising his Constitutional rights? Similar episodes play themselves out all across the country every day, probably hundreds of times a day.
Nobody looked askance at the guy. Nobody looked at him as being particularly threatening just because he happened to have a gun.
He was just a guy.
A guy with a gun.
To the hoplophobes, the gun makes him dangerous.
Well, I should certainly hope so, to the right people. If a guy is trying to do him harm, rob him of his possessions and make him pray for the criminal’s restraint in stopping at possessions rather than his life as well, well I hope he’d be friggin’ lethal to that guy.
I hope he’s badassed enough to stick five of those +P hollow-points in Bad Guy’s left ventricle with a smile on his face and a song in his heart.
But to the rest of us? He’s just a guy. Nothing especially threatening about him at all, unless you’re a bad guy, or so unreasoningly paralyzed by fear of an inanimate object that you can’t tell him and the bad guys apart.
For the rest of us that master our fears, they’re not so hard to tell apart at all.