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A Non-Event

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.

Comments - Add Yours

  • John

    Pretty much my experience last October when I got left-turned into.

    Investigating officer cleared my firearms and secured them in his cruiser until he got to the hospital, then transferred them to the trunk of the wife’s car.

    Checked my CWP when he talked to me in the ER. No problems, no paperwork. No spontaneous bowel evacuations.

  • julied

    Wish it was like that here …..

  • Dirk

    “It was a non-event”

    Just as it should be.

  • GoofyMcAmbalamps

    Had a suspected homicide scene the other day where a rifle found its way to the mouth of a woman, who was obviously dead-on-scene. I stepped over said rifle to make my assessment, or rather to get out of the way of PD. My partner, on the other hand, treated the rifle as if, at any moment, it would jump up, kill everyone in the room, then start a multi-state killing spree on its own.

    It is hard to imagine how people like that live their daily lives, in the constant fear of inanimate objects.

  • Evyl Robot Michael

    That went EXACTLY as it should have. Thanks for sharing!

  • Ted

    If everyone who carried acted like this, the anti-gun lobby wouldn’t have a leg to stand on.

    • Ambulance_Driver

      Unfortunately, no.

      Because 99% of people who carry DO act like this.

      But reality has little to do with perception for the anti-gun lobby.

      Kelly Grayson

  • Dixie


  • Bloodshot

    It’s not the gun, it’s not the ordinary person that makes people nervous. It’s the number of things that can go wrong: snagged trigger, not a proper holster, accidental discharge, etc. Stupidity can kill you know.

    • Ambulance_Driver

      Snagged trigger and accidental discharge are nigh impossible in a DA revolver enclosed in a pocket holster. Thus, no need to be nervous.

      • Bloodshot

        You know that and I know that. The fact that you had to ask some questions about safety is because you know that some people don’t handle guns safely and you wanted to make sure. If you were 100% sure that everyone with a gun handled guns well, you wouldn’t have to ask.

  • trixe77

    I had the opposite experience. Biker and passenger down in the center lane of the interstate , fairly acute injuries for both. Only my partner and myself in the pitch black on a Friday night with heavy traffic around us trying to protect the scene,ourselves and the patients. No FD for a lane block, no medic available, 10 yo old crappy truck with minimal reflective markings, no flares. trooper shows up finally. biker says,” hey BTW I have a gun in the saddle bag of my bike”.(which by now has been knocked over to the other side of the highway) You would have thought he said he had a bomb in the saddlebag. Trooper and the next 3 troopers left us there with no assistance or protection in the traffic to go find the gun. I spent 2 hours doing paperwork that night justifying short cuts taken in immobilization protocols as we basically threw the patients into the truck to get out of the traffic. So I was almost killed by the mere presence of a gun 100 yards away causing spontaneous rectal cranial inversion in our normally very helpful LEO’s. *sigh*

  • Old_NFO

    Non event down there, massive PSH up here… sigh

  • Lucy Hornstein

    Non-events are wonderful. Too bad they (and concealed carry in general) have nothing to do with 32,000 firearms deaths last year (20,000 suicides) (source: You sound like the folks who refuse flu shots because they’ve never gotten the flu. Logic fail.

    • Ambulance_Driver

      Well, by your reasoning anyone who advocates for their Second Amendment rights is a sociopath and a terrorist.
      It’s not my logic that is faulty here. No doubt you’d have shat your pants and made a big deal of it, but hysteria is what I’ve come to expect from you.

      • DinoDocLucy

        You know, I’ve calmed down considerably over this whole thing as I read more, and come to realize that more people agree with me than with you. I will agree that I may have over-reacted initially regarding the events of 12/14/12, but you have not been able to marshal enough logical, evidence-based arguments to change my mind about the need for sensible firearm legislation in this country.
        (One reference:
        I’m not the least bit hysterical, but hey; clearly it makes you feel better to discount anything I have to say, which says far more about you than about me, as you hold forth in your pro-gun echo-chamber here.

    • bobball

      Apples and oranges, Lucy. As for the 20,000 firearms suicides…if they didn’t have a firearm; they would likely choose something else. I’d have to do some digging, but I would bet that if you looked at the number of CO poisoning deaths occur with car owners versus people that don’t own cars…you’d find that there is a correlation there too.

      The fact is that there are a lot more things that kill people than firearms. Heck, you’re more than twice as likely to have someone punch or kick you to death (no weapon at all) than to be killed with all long-guns combined (shotguns, “traditional” rifles, “muskets” and the things that people like to call “assault weapons”…or modern sporting rifles).

      Research is obviously not your thing, even if you are apparently some sort of doc. Why? Because you’re only looking at one part of the results…you’re not looking at the full (or even representative) data. As such, you miss key elements.

      I know a great STATS 201 professor that could probably help you figure it out.

    • creekside408

      Could you kindly explain the logic fail, because I also don’t see the connection between law abiding people carrying handguns for personal protection, and 20,000 firearms suicides per year. By the way, page 19 of your huge PDF has all the information needed. As a member of the Pink Pistols, my sympathies are with the 11,000 people killed by firearms and 4,850 killed by other weapons. Some of those deaths were preventable if local law had permitted the victims to apply for concealed handgun permits with any hope of success — New York, Chicago, California, etc. Armed gays don’t get bashed.

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  • mpatk

    Good to hear that not only was your patient carrying responsibly (in a holster); but also immediately informed law enforcement of that fact.

    Unfortunately, that is not always the case. I remember one auto accident where the vehicle rolled half-way down an embankment; patient UTL (Unable To Locate) after searching the woods. State Troopers found the patient walking home a few miles away and brought the patient back to the scene for various medical and coordination tests. Just as I’m drawing a blood sample, one trooper comes over and asks, “Do you have weapons in that vehicle?” The answer: “Yes, three of them. One of them is registered to my dead grandmother; but it’s mine.”

    *facepalm* Not only did the patient leave weapons and ammunition unsecured in an abandoned vehicle late at night, one of the weapons was registered to a long-dead individual. Oh, the patient also failed the “coordination” tests and left in handcuffs.

    Unfortunately, laws are not written for the 99% of people who know how to be civilized and responsible; it’s for the 1% that can’t play nice or take care of their things.

    • Ambulance_Driver

      I agree, you can’t trust a drunk to do the smart thing. The flaw in your premise, though, is that the gun laws we pass to control the 1% generally only are observed by the 99% who weren’t the problem in the first place.
      And on the registration issue, I see no point to that anyway. It’s a sham that does nothing to limit gun crime, and only serves as a potential database for future confiscation.
      And before you accuse me of hysteria in bringing up confiscation, it has already been proposed by legislators in several states. I doubt it will ever happen, but it exposes their assurances otherwise for the lies that they are.

      • mpatk

        The 1% vs 99% argument holds for many laws, not just gun laws. How many people would commit murder if it wasn’t illegal?

        As for registration, how about a gun license? If you pass the background check and a safety course (e.g. NRA course), you can buy a gun. It doesn’t mean you own a gun, or if you do, how many you own. No “paper trail” linking people to individual guns; but al least something to continue to ensure that the guns go to responsible people.

        Six months ago, I would have accused you of hysteria in claiming registration = confiscation; but I am dismayed to find that recent events seem to support that argument.

  • Too Old To Work

    A non event, as it should be. Fortunately, you’re familiar and comfortable around firearms, most people, including most in EMS, aren’t. Which I’ll discuss with you via email because it gives me an idea.

    Back to the post. I have only one quibble. I never “clear” a gun for a couple of reasons. First, it distracts everyone from the medical issue we are dealing with, including the patient. Second, fiddling with an unfamiliar gun serves no purpose and if the gun is defective there is some (small) risk of ND. Third, if there is any hint of this being a crime scene you have not only injected yourself into the chain of custody of the weapon, you might have got your grubby finger prints or someone’s DNA on the weapon, magazine, or ammunition.

    My practice, endorses by the detectives of Sorta Big City was to put the weapon aside and notify the police. Hospital security around here is notorious about not wanting any part of firearms.

    • Ambulance_Driver

      If you’ll check, you’ll see that I never handled the weapon. The charge nurse unloaded it before handing it over to hospital security.

    • bobball

      We generally leave it alone, and if we wind up taking it with us (set away from the patient and others), security at our place puts it in a firearms locker and leaves it alone until the patient is discharged or it’s handed off to the appropriate folks (family, police or whatever).

  • Kellie

    Thank you for spreading the appropriate response in this situation!

  • henrybowmanaz

    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.

    Actually, if you’re driving a car, with seat belt on, that’s probably one of the few places you COULD get to it.

  • Ambulance_Driver

    Dr. Hornstein, keep deluding yourself about how many agree with your position.

    And neither have you been able to marshal enough logical, evidence based arguments to defend your positions. You cherry-pick data to support your preconceptions, and just about every citation you provide is from a liberal source that does the same thing. If I’m guilty of group think, you’re at least as bad as I am in your conclusions.

    You constantly confuse correlation with causation (while I occasionally succumb to alliteration), and you ignore anyone who points out that the solutions you propose will do very little to actually address the problem.

    And I apologize for calling you the liberal equivalent of a birther. I’ll ignore the fact that I was provoked, and that’s how you were behaving at the time. But you see, when you start off by demonizing the opposition, which is exactly what you did, you do two things: admit that your argument is based more upon emotion than reason, and close the door on any future meaningful discussions.

    This is the tenor of the debate that YOU have wrought, and I place the blame squarely on your doorstep.

  • Sandro Rettinger

    Man. That’s pretty nice. I mean, as states go, New Mexico is pretty darn firearm friendly, and a lot of the locals still get a bit twitchy around guns. :-/

  • Anon

    I agree we need sensible firearm legislation in this country…we need to seriously pare down the 20,000 laws regulating firearms down to maybe, 1 or 2: don’t murder or assault anyone with your firearm (or your knife, bat, hammer, fists, feet, lead pipe, tire iron, etc.)

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