Paradox in Pennsylvania

He was a trained, skilled, professional. His job was to help people with problems. He was well respected.

He carried a secret. Some of those around him knew his secret but they stayed silent about it. If he had been found out, he could have lost his job and even his very career. It could lead to an ethics investigation, possibly even criminal charges.

What was his secret? Lee Silverman carried a gun to work every day. He worked in a hospital where guns are not allowed. He carried one anyway.

Last week, Lee Silverman’s secret became known to the nation. He was praised as a hero for shooting a man who callously shot his caseworker in the head, then turned his gun on Silverman and had intentions to kill as many people as he possibly could.

Richard Plotts, a man with multiple arrests for crimes involving firearms, was not supposed to be in possession of a firearm. He was. He was in a “gun-free zone.” He wasn’t gun-free. He had a pistol and enough ammunition to kill or wound a wing of patients and staff.

Lee Silverman expected that the gun he carried would remain a secret to most people for as long as he worked at Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital. Richard Plotts changed all that.

Some hospital staff heard the argument and looked in the door to see Plotts brandishing his pistol. They immediately called 911. The call to 911 was not enough to save the life of Theresa Hunt. When Lee Silverman saw Plotts fire two shots into the head of Hunt, the time for talking and waiting for someone else to do something was over.

Silverman ducked behind his desk as Plotts turned his aim toward Silverman. He pulled the pistol out of his pocket and came back up firing. It was probably the last thing that Plotts expected.

In the twisted mind of Plotts, he was supposed to see a helpless victim shuddering in fear underneath his desk, perhaps begging for his life. Instead, he suddenly learned that the playing field was even when Silverman came from behind the desk firing his own weapon.

Plotts was hit several times. He ran out the door wounded, bleeding, and no longer thinking of killing as many people as he could. He was now the one fearing for his own life.

Some of the hospital staff tackled Plotts and held him until police arrived. Lee Silverman was praised as a quick thinking hero. The hospital administration said that they looked forward to having him back at work.

Here is the paradox. What if Lee Silverman had a falling out with someone who knew his secret the week before? What if someone complained to the hospital administration that one of their doctors was carrying a gun while practicing medicine?

Instead of being the hero, Lee Silverman could have just as easily lost his job, his license, perhaps even his freedom. Even more importantly, there could have been more than one dead in that tragedy.

As with most gun control laws, the policy at Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital was based on a flawed concept of reality. The flawed concept is that a policy and a sign declaring that firearms are not allowed in a certain area is all that is required to keep firearms out of an area.

The reasoning, which seems logical, is that if there are no firearms in an area, then there can be no threat of incidents involving firearms in that area. The logic is built on the premise that one can assure that there are no firearms in a certain area.

Richard Plotts and others across the nation proved that when someone decides to commit a crime, the policies are meaningless to them. Tragically, those who decide to commit the crime are the predators. Those who lawfully adhere to the policies become the helpless prey.

Fortunately for many at Mercy Fitzergald Hospital, Lee Silverman exempted himself from the policy. He probably will have at least one regret. As he relives that fateful day, he will likely regret that he didn’t draw and fire before Plotts took the life of Theresa Hunt. Knowing that his co-workers called 911 before it happened won’t give solace to Silverman or the family of Theresa Hunt.

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