Some Very Silly Reasons for Not Allowing Guns
One of the Texas Takedown documents is a cop giving reasons why guns should not be allowed on any campuses in Texas — not even to valid holders of the Texas concealed carry license. He picks 2 hospitals as the reason no campuses should allow CCW, and then picks 2 extreme situations, and a few non-existent ones. The document boils down to control. Cops like being dominant and in control, and if everyone is allowed to have a gun, they are that much less powerful in their own minds. Below is the document:
On March 4, 2009, you directed each of the Chiefs of Police in the UT-System to provide you with feedback on Senate Bill 1164, proposed legislation that would allow concealed handgun license holders to carrying their weapons on campuses premises. You asked that the feedback include fiscal impact, procedures and the effects in the change of law and be completed by March 8, 2009.
The proposed legislation is a major change in the law that will, if passed as written, have significant and measurable impact our the two institutions I serve, especially UT-M D Anderson Cancer Center. With the assistance of my staff I submit the following.
Before I provide you with input I would refer you back to an article that Assistant Chief Thomas Engells and I wrote on the topic for professional security providers in the publication Managing Security Today. This article was mainly focused at the traditional academic college campus. I have attached a copy for your use as I will not cover these types of campuses but rather focus on Health Science and Hospital related campuses. Neither of which are your typical college campus nor are they addressed in the proposed legislation, yet the provisions, as written, would apply to them.
Both M D Anderson (MDACC and the Health Science Center at Houston (HSC) are not traditional academic campuses as the proposed legislation appears to only consider, yet they both are considered “Universities”. While MDACC is a renowned Cancer Treatment Center (Hospital) it does have a strong academic and world class research arm. HSC has a practice plan with numerous clinics providing medical treatment as well as its diverse medical and health colleges and the research areas that compliment them. The theme here is treating patients, research and education. The bill seems to focus on the education element at a traditional academic campus.
HSC and MDACC have a significant greater per capita of students and researchers eligible for a CHL, which is distinct from the academic campuses where the preponderance of students are ineligible by age to hold a Concealed Handgun License (CHL). Most of the patients and visitors who are on campus meet this same criteria. The result is many more persons who will visit or conduct business on our campuses, HSC and MDACC, will be of eligible age.
The fiscal impact could be enormous. I will provide our thoughts which are not in any way all inclusive or exhaustive by any stretch of the imagination.
1. Cost to remain competitive and retain world class faculty and professional staff:
HSC and MDACC operate in the largest medical center in the world. With 46 institutions that make up the medical center the demand and competition for world class faculty and professional staff is almost undesirable. Since the proposed law would impact our institutions and arguably not all of the others in the medical center we run the risk of these key persons considering working across the street where they know no weapons are allowed. Frankly, they can change jobs in a day and never move their parking spaces. Will having to go through an end of life event with family members who are armed a concern of our physicians, medical professionals and others? Consider treating persons who have the terrible disease of cancer and who come with their families to the top cancer treatment center in the United States, often as a last resort. These persons are emotional taxed, often distraught and on edge. Introducing a lethal weapon into this environment might cause existing employees to rethink their employment choices and in some cases patients might seek help in other states with top rated cancer centers. We really do not know the final impact of this bill but the downside of allowing it to cover Health Science Centers and MDACC could be enormous.
2. Cost to provide Safe and Secure Storage of Weapons:
We would have no choice but to provide safe and secure storage in all hospital rooms, outpatient areas, surgical wings, imaging and diagnostic areas, treatment rooms, clinics, consultation rooms, research labs, recreation centers, etc. This would apply to employees and patients. Surgeons would need a place to secure their firearms prior to surgery.
Our students complete rotations in clinics, surgical theatres, imaging and diagnostics, laboratories, etc. requiring them to gown up; they will have to have a place to safely store their weapons.
The probable impact is area and room redesign, costly and disruptive construction, utility connections, etc. The cost and scope of this should be determined by professionals in this area.
3. Cost to maintain the Storage Devices and care for unclaimed weapons:
It will require the employment of additional personnel who can maintain, repair, replace and reprogram the devices on a constant basis. These devices would by necessity be of high quality and have the ability to track use.
There may be occasions that persons leave the weapons, but in our critical care functions we may have instances where by the patient expires and the weapons must be retrieved, stored and properly disposed of. This would require additional Police and Hospital employee time, additional weapon storage at the Police Department, additional research and legal proceeding to properly dispose of the weapon. This is not like giving the next of kin their loved ones bible or pictures.
4. Cost of Police Response:
To protect the community and responding police officers, many calls such as disturbances, threats, etc will require a multiple officer response due to the increased possibility of the individual(s) being armed with a lethal force weapon.
The change in response protocols and the possibility of increased calls for law enforcement response to person(s) seen with weapons may require the hiring of additional police officers.
There is the possibility that we will receive an increase in requests to have Police Officers present (for safety) at high stress, tension and life changing events. These could range from medical end of life events to employment terminations to major disciplinary action. While we rarely if ever get called to end of life events the unknown of having armed persons there might impact this.
The additional time and effort necessary to verify lawful CHLs should be considered.
As noted in item 2 Police Officers will be required to retrieve weapons and take the appropriate actions. This will require more police officer time, more police dispatchers’ time and more responsibility and work for the property office technicians. How much impact and thus how much additional employees might be needed is unknown.
It is impossible at this time to determine the number of policies and procedures at both institutions that will have to be changed to comply with this law. It is reasonable to assume that the number is significant and the cost to accomplish this will be high. Professional and legal office involvement will be required.
It is reasonable to predict that significant training will be required for all employees at both institutions. The training will range from educational initiatives on the law and its implications and effects on the institution and the employees to specific training for individual areas to include the Police Department. The training will have to address all of the new policies, procedures and how to handle potentially armed persons.
This training will be costly, production limiting and ongoing.
The procedures impact is likely to be significant and without extensive study with all affected parties involved it is impossible to fully and accurately layout. However, changes in policies and procedures will impact virtually everyone, whether a staff member, faculty, patient, visitor, student, researcher, contractor, etc. Procedures as to how to handle armed persons depending on their purpose on campus. How to safely and orderly secure an individual’s weapon. How to respond to calls of crime in progress, disturbances, or threats. The proper handling and disposition of weapons. Again, it is impossible for me to give any justice to this question for the reasons I have mentioned.
The effects in the change of the law will be significant. I have described those in which my staff and I could quickly identify. Again, this is by no means all inclusive or absolute.
Lastly I wanted to note some additional concerns or issues to consider:
1. The proposed law does not account for situations where law enforcement may not be able to rapidly distinguish a friendly gun holder from a criminal one. The unintended consequence may be a heightened response. It simply makes it unsafely difficult to determine who the threat is and who the friendly are in an active shooter incident. In a shooting two years ago at a Salt Lake City Mall, the gunman was being chased by an off-duty police officer. As the Salt Lake City PD arrived, there was confusion as to who the off-duty officer was – he came close to being shot by the responding officers who first thought he was the shooter.
2. If weapons are available as an option to resolve conflicts the chance of utilizing it increases.
3. The possibility of an accidental discharge inside of a hospital or in a college setting could be disastrous. Hospitals have gas lines throughout which could be dangerous if struck. Last year, one of the Joint Commission inspectors commented on this very fact. He asked if we armed our personnel with bullets that would not penetrate the walls. Colleges are full of crowded events whereby someone could more easily be hurt or killed.
If students, faculty/staff and authorized visitors are required to “notify” campus police of their stay, then the need for a process for notification and staff to implement the process to have handgun carriers identified and a process the ensure that their license is authorized.
If weapons are readily available, there is good probability for the “option” to resolve conflicts utilizing guns. The teaching environment may be affected as faculty may be fearful to counsel or discipline students. In most situations where campus violence has occurred, the attack has been implemented quickly and without warning. The shootings a Virginia Tech occurred in less than 2 minutes and without warning or provocation. In all probability even if students had been armed, a response action would not have deterred this tragedy.
The bill does not restrict carriers to only those appropriately on campus. Language includes all handgun carriers which may affect institutions’ ability to restrict employees from carrying their weapons at the workplace.
• Permitting handguns on campus means concealed handguns within our hospital/clinics. This may increase the risk of an incident during an end of life event as well as presenting a care/custody issue for patients’ handguns. University of Texas at Houston Health Science Center and The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center within the Texas Medical Center is not your typical college campus. Many of our building are Administrative-Research – and Hospital facilities and weapons should be prohibited from these areas. We are a comprehensive cancer center but are considered as a campus of the university not a hospital. Thus permitting concealed handguns on campus means concealed handguns within the hospital.