Should Doctors Carry Guns?


If you haven’t heard, a doctor working in a suburban hospital’s psychiatric unit, stopped a patient who had come to kill people.  He had a already killed a caseworker.  The doctor was grazed by gunfire from the patient who had entered his office but stopped the the patient by returning fire with his own gun.   Let me first say that I am not a gun guy, mainly because I never grew up with them and not because I don’t believe in having them.  I am just not trained or comfortable around them.  That being said, should doctors, especially those in dangerous clinics or areas or specialities, be able to defend themselves?  If the answer is yes, then I think all doctors in those situations should have a gun close by.   Why?  Because denying a narc seeker can get you killed. Because cutting off certain meds from psychiatric patients can get you killed.  Because turning in a child abuser can get you killed.  Because taking an old person’s license away can get you killed.

I am actually surprised that more doctors aren’t killed.  We are certainly threatened a lot.  Years ago I remember hearing a loud “Go f%ck yourself” in the my office.  I ran out of my personal office and saw some dude staring down my medical partner and making threats because he was caught abusing narcotics and was cut off.  I proceeded to stand next to my buddy whereupon he challenged my partner to bring his friend out (me) in the parking lot to mix it up.  As a doctor, I could never do that.   As a former Division I collegiate wrestler and collegiate all-american boxer (ego be damned), I would have loved to taken this jerk up on his offer.  But what if he just went to his car and came back with a gun?  We would have nothing to stop us.  Not even my ego.

Personally, I think this doctor above, who shot the patient, is a hero (from the information that was leaked so far).

So, how many of you think doctors should have a gun on them or keep one close by?  Click yes or no on the survey on the top right of the website.


Douglas Farrago MD

Douglas Farrago MD is a full-time practicing family doc in Forest, Va. He started Forest Direct Primary Care where he takes no insurance and bills patients a monthly fee. He is board certified in the specialty of Family Practice. He is the inventor of a product called the Knee Saver which is currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Knee Saver and its knock-offs are worn by many major league baseball catchers. He is also the inventor of the CryoHelmet used by athletes for head injuries as well as migraine sufferers. Dr. Farrago is the author of four books, two of which are the top two most popular DPC books. From 2001 – 2011, Dr. Farrago was the editor and creator of the Placebo Journal which ran for 10 full years. Described as the Mad Magazine for doctors, he and the Placebo Journal were featured in the Washington Post, US News and World Report, the AP, and the NY Times. Dr. Farrago is also the editor of the blog Authentic Medicine which was born out of concern about where the direction of healthcare is heading and the belief that the wrong people are in charge. This blog has been going daily for more than 15 years Article about Dr. Farrago in Doximity Email Dr. Farrago – [email protected] 

  9 comments for “Should Doctors Carry Guns?

  1. Neuro doc
    July 30, 2014 at 8:09 am

    I carry a reflex hammer with very sharp edges (the handle edge is sharp). This is a weapon though not as effective as a gun. Carrying a gun can escalate a situation and we are obligated to attempt to deescalate .

  2. July 28, 2014 at 9:40 am

    #1) OC (pepper spray) has never killed, but has saved countless lives.
    #2) Read “In Gravest Extreme” by Masaad Ayoob on firearms. One of the only honest books I’ve seen.

    • Sir Lance-a-lot
      July 28, 2014 at 10:36 am

      #1) Have you ever used pepper spray indoors?
      Come back and post here when you have.

      #2) Nobody said that having a gun was a failure-proof option.
      Having a gun is simply another option, and I would rather have options than not have them.
      I am no more likely to pull out a gun and wave it at someone than to pull out a knife, and, yes, I have read Ayoob’s “Unarmed Against the Knife.”

  3. Ray
    July 26, 2014 at 11:09 pm

    I think most of us have been threatened on the job. I think a physician who is properly trained is not a threat to the public but just the opposite, he/she may save lives if a shooter presents. There is an old saying that ” when seconds matter help is minutes away”. Unfortunately all facilities need to have a plan for disasters. A belligerent or violent patient is something all medical practices should have a plan for.

  4. Melinda
    July 26, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    I would rather explain why I felt threatened enough to shoot someone than wear a toe tag. In order to do so, I have to have the right to have a gun, or my only option is the toe tag. (The old saying is “I would rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6” but this is more specific–in order to have the right to shoot in self defense, you have to have the right to have a gun, then choose freely whether or not you want to exercise that right.)

  5. Sir Lance-a-Lot
    July 25, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    Hell yeah.

    I don’t carry one myself (too darned heavy, really, and leaving it alone in the car makes me a bit nervous), but, sure, any doc who wants to should have a gun, and I’d go so far as to say the SOMEONE in the building should have a gun at all times, just in case…

    I’ve had one incident at my present bucolic location of a drug-seeker getting in my face – I told him no narcs, and he said one of those jailhouse things to me, under his breath, so that I could pretend I didn’t hear it and walk away, but loud and clear enough that he knew I had heard it. I knew that walking away from that would be considered backing down, and an invitation for him to return and up the ante, potentially exposing someone else to violence, so I exploded at him right there and physically threw him out of the building. He never came back, but if I hadn’t played his dominance game, he’s just the type who would have come back with a bat, a gun, or his fists and hurt somebody.

    People like that are all around, and we all need to be prepared to deal with them at any time in this business.
    As our peace-loving friends in law enforcement like to say, “Be professional, be courteous, and have a plan to kill everyone you meet.”

  6. Dave Mittman, PA, DFAAPA
    July 25, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    Doug: I generally agree with you. There should have been a third choice; Yes, only those under above average danger. No one wants a doc (PA, etc) with a gun in their belt. I sure don’t. You really also need to be well trained in the handling and care, even of a pistol. You need to practice. You need to have it fairly accessible. It gets complicated.
    That being said, some people need protection for various reasons. Guns, if used properly afford one that protection.

    • PL MS3
      July 25, 2014 at 4:15 pm

      While training is desired, I don’t think it should be legally mandated for healthcare providers; perhaps if the facility or office required it and could determine their own needs, I would appreciate that more. In many law enforcement agencies, the minimum annual qualifications for pistols consist of some paltry amount like firing 30 rounds (Illinois).

      I’ve gone through maybe 1,500 in the past three years.

  7. Fred Powell
    July 25, 2014 at 7:54 am

    I grew up with guns and have my concealed weapons permit. If you are comfortable with it, I see no reason not to

Comments are closed.