No matter how much training, experience and proven good judgment you have, some people will never be comfortable with an old sheepdog being armed
Lt. Dan Marcue
How would you feel if someone you had great respect for declared they were not comfortable with you being armed? This is how it happened to me.
The new doctor
On November 7, 2018, I went for my yearly physical. I was scheduled with a new doctor because my old doctor was retiring. When I arrived at the hospital-clinic I gave absolutely no thought to the fact I was armed. After all these years that would be like giving thought to the fact that I was wearing socks. Because my doctor was new, I told him I was retired law enforcement and showed him my identification and authorization to carry concealed.
Unimpressed, he explained I had three options to choose from before he would start the physical:
After he said it was “policy,” I initially planned on taking door number two, but then the doctor unnecessarily added, “I’m not comfortable with you being armed.”
Those words hit me in the gut like a sock full of quarters swung by an Olympic hammer thrower. I left without having my physical exam feeling an intense sadness to the point of being physically ill. I had once commanded the SWAT team and been named SWAT Officer of the Year in Wisconsin. Now I was just an old guy and before the doctor took one look at me or asked me one question, he declared he was “not comfortable” with me being armed.
“Ouch!” It hurts my heart to think of it.
You see I had been entering this hospital armed for 40 years, mostly when the hospital needed assistance. In one case I may have saved some lives. A suspect entered the emergency room with a shotgun to kill his significant other, and I was in a position to flank him and render him unconscious with a lateral vascular neck restraint. No shots were fired and no one was hurt.
That struggle on the hospital’s behalf and countless others were long forgotten along with my years of extensive training and experience. Besides the intense sadness I felt upon hearing the doctor’s words I thought to myself, “It’s sure not easy being an old sheepdog.”
The day of the Borderline shooting attackBy coincidence, later that same day my resolve to continue carrying was rekindled. A man entered the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, California, armed with a semi-automatic .45 caliber pistol. He proceeded to kill 12 during this attack.
The first victim in the shooting was a man providing unarmed security for the bar. With no way to defend himself, he died at his post. Another victim in the Borderline attack had survived the Las Vegas Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting, proving that not only can this sort of lightning strike twice, but also that there is no inoculation against these killers.
Sgt. Ron Helus of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office courageously entered the Borderline while the shooting was in progress and was mortally wounded just minutes after he had concluded a phone call to his wife by saying, “I love you.”
Rest in peace brother.
The doctor’s words to me shine a light on a problem we face dealing with active shooters. No matter how much training, experience and proven good judgment a person possesses, some people will never be comfortable with anyone being armed.
There are countless “security” measures and signs in place to disarm people like you and me because few people are willing to recognize that having more armed, honorable gunfighters around is part of the solution to the problem of active shooters.
Requiring someone of my background and skills to disarm before entering hospitals, courthouses, restaurants, malls, schools, airports, stadiums and theaters is absolutely ludicrous. This requirement is made in spite of the fact that these locations have been prime targets of active shooter.
It would be easier not to be a sheepdog
Speaking from experience it would be easier to lock my Glock away in storage than to carry it every day as I do. It takes a commitment. You see anyone who carries concealed is at times:
Part of the solution, not part of the problem
Not everyone who chooses to carry concealed is a “gun nut or a “bitter clinger.” There are, as Colonel David Grossman notes, “honorable sheepdogs, who would never harm the flock they are sworn to protect.” They carry concealed because of an innate sense that it is their calling to protect those who can’t protect themselves.
Once a killer starts shooting, the people in the killer’s line of fire will not care if those armed sheepdogs are:
Editors Note: I carry as a retired peace officer. My doctor doesn't care and has asked me for advice on signage for her clinic. I live in Texas. It is mostly a gun friendly environment. My dentist saw I was armed and asked me if I could get him a good price on a firearm. I also have a secured pistol lock box in both of my cars because I know that there are places where I may not carry. I once had a prick in a furniture store ask me if I was armed. I said yes and he told me that the store didn't allow armed people on their premises. I replied, "I'm fixing to pay you $850 for a recliner. If I leave, I'm not coming back." He then said since I was already there, it would be OK. He was just being an ass that didn't like cops. The chair was on sale and was needed by my wife for medical reasons. Otherwise I would have told him he had just lost a sale.