Ask any hospital worker and they'll probably tell you chaos, unpredictability and even violence come with the territory of their jobs. Now, a Texas lawmaker would like to add one more ingredient to the combustible mix that includes stress, psychiatric disorders, traumatic injuries and the gamut of social issues: guns.
Texas State Rep. Drew Springer, a Republican, wants staff and visitors alike to be allowed to carry guns into hospital grounds, KERA News reports. Second Amendment advocates have already succeeded in winning the right to carry handguns in public starting in January. Later next year, guns will be allowed on university campuses.
But that's not enough for Springer.
Springer said his push for guns in hospitals came from having to walk through a dark Fort Worth hospital parking lot a few years ago after a security guard him told him to leave his weapon in his car.
"I spend the next 10 minutes walking in a dark parking lot to get to my car in downtown Fort Worth and I absolutely did not feel safe," he told KERA.
According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, workplace violence is a fact of life for health care workers, who experience the highest rate of on-the-job assaults as it is. And the problem is only getting worse. Between 1993 and 2009, violence on medical staff accounted for 10 percent of all workplace violence, according to an OSHA report, which also finds:
The rate of violent crime at U.S. hospitals also appears to be increasing. According to the IAHSS Foundation’s latest research, which was released at the IAHSS annual conference earlier this month, from 2012 to 2014, the rate of violent crime increased 40%, from 2.0 to 2.8 incidents per 100 beds. The vast majority of aggravated assaults (79%) and assaults (90%) were against employees and were committed by customers, clients, patients, students, inmates or any others for whom the organization provided services.
The man responsible for safety at Dallas-area hospitals is not a supporter of the idea.
"I'm a Second Amendment supporter. However, I think there needs to be some common sense built into this as well," Dallas County Hospital District Police Captain Dan Birbeck told KERA.
There have been a number of gun-related incidents at Texas hospitals in recent years, even though they have been "gun-free," KERA reports. A few years ago, a prisoner being treated by hospital staff managed to grab the gun off a sheriff's deputy, leading to a large manhunt. The man was eventually apprehended.
In January, a shooting at an El Paso Veterans Affairs clinic left a psychologist and the gunman dead, while in April, a father who was visiting his son in a hospital pulled a gun on a nurse, KERA reports. No one in that incident was injured.
"All people I know within the hospital community clearly want gun-free zones in their hospitals," Steve Love of the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council told KERA. "We have enough problems with security as it is, to add guns to the mix just makes it more complicated."