If doctors get guns, shots may be more painful

February 10, 2004|by TIM ROWLAND

It's not fair. Doctors get the jack, they get the babes, they get the cars with the stinkin' vanity plates, they get prestige - and now they get the guns.

A bill in Annapolis co-sponsored by Sen. Alex Mooney, R-Pluto, would allow doctors responding to biological or WMD attacks to pack heat.

I don't know quite how that works: "All right, smallpox, let go of the girl and come out with your hands up."

I'm all for it, though. First pilots get guns, then doctors get guns, so I'm thinking two or three professions down the road they ought to get to "newspaper columnist."


That's Mooney's solution to terrorism threats: Guns. If you don't know how to deal with a problem, just pass out more guns. It's like if doctors don't know what's wrong with you, they blame caffeine. When a doctor says, "Cut out the caffeine" that's code for "I don't have the faintest idea what's wrong."

It's a win-win for the doctor, because no one who has ever been ordered to cut down on the caffeine has actually done it. So when you come back to the doctor and say, "Doc, I'm still green from the waist up," he'll say "Did you cut out caffeine?" and you will have to admit that you didn't, giving the physician an easy out.

'Course, if he's slinging lead, that's a whole nuther story. If he tells me to cut out the joe and squeezes off a couple of rounds into the ceiling from his .357 mag, I'm cutting out the joe.

Talk about an examining room incentive for your friendly, neighborhood Marcus Welby: "Cough! Or I'll shoot!"

"But Doc, when you said you were recommending me for a 'discharge,' I assumed..."

If Mooney extends the bill to dentists, we might yet get kids to floss.

And you thought you got nervous when the doctor said you needed a couple of shots.

I'm curious, though. If a doctor plugs a perp, does he then have to turn around and start treating him? Or is that a conflict of interest? If the doctor in charge of treating you also wants you dead, I think you can see the problem. There's your Hippocratic oath, for you.

"First, do no..."


"Oh, I'm sorry. You were saying...?"

First, do no harm. Second, try to make it a leg shot.

A couple of problems, though. First, if doctors are carrying guns, what does that do to their already considerable liability premiums? The last thing they need is maltargetpractice insurance. Second, where are they going to put a sidearm? They already have pagers, PDAs and cell phones. Any more equipment on their belts and you won't know whether you're getting operated on by a neurosurgeon or the Wichita Lineman.

Supporters of the bill talk about physicians being the "first responders" to the scene of a chemical, biological or radiation attack. Has anyone asked the doctors if they want to be out front on this?

If there's a personal-injury traffic accident, the pecking order of people responding is generally:

1. Police.

2. Ambulance.

3. Lawyers.

4. Fire trucks.

I don't know where doctors would fit into the mix. I'm all for them getting there first, but I'd prefer it not be with guns blazing. I want paramedic, not paramilitary.

Maybe Mooney could dovetail this bill with the other piece of landmark legislation which would create some kind of statewide stolen car dragnet at a cost to taxpayers of $500,000. Mooney who, just by coincidence, had his own car stolen last year, wants citizens to help bring in stolen cars, a job I believe they could do far better if they were armed.

Society would function much more efficiently if all drivers were required to carry guns, just as the state requires them to wear seat belts. Trooper pulls you over and says, "May I see your license, registration, proof of insurance and Browning semi-automatic, please?"

And that law in turn would dovetail perfectly with John Ashcroft's Patriot Games Act, which supplants every amendment to the Constitution, save for the second. Which is critical, because if gun laws are doctored, only doctors will have guns.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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