Wyoming Hospital System Considers Scrapping 'Gun-Free Zone' Policy

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When Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon vetoed a bill that would have repealed most of the "gun-free zones" in the state, he claimed the measure would empower the state legislature to “micromanage a constitutionally protected right.” Instead, he encouraged both private businesses and public institutions to revisit their policies on their own, obliquely warning that failing to do so could lead to another round of legislation that would mandate changes be made. 


It sounds like at least one entity in the state has gotten the message. Campbell County Health trustees are considering revising the hospital system's current policy banning weapons throughout its properties, and several board members are already on board with getting rid of the blanket restriction.  

Trustee Dr. Mark Hoskinson said that there was an incident not long ago involving someone with a knife at a Hoskinson Health and Wellness Clinic psychiatry office in the Lakeway Plaza which caused his clinic to reconsider its security measures.

“I feel safer with people who know how to use guns,” Hoskinson said. “… I’d rather have people who are well trained and I would not want to work in a zone where I know that I have no protection until the police got there.”

Trustee Bill Rice, a former longtime CCH employee, recalled an encounter with a patient who entered the Walk-in Clinic with a knife in a threatening manner, but ultimately used it to hurt himself rather than attack employees or other patients. 

“Of course, I’m not sure if I had a gun that would have been good either,” he said. “… I think we would have felt better if we were prepared to protect ourselves or prevent people from advancing on the front desk.”


Based on just those two incidents, I think it's fair to say that the current policy isn't stopping anyone from bringing a weapon into these facilities. So why should every employee be forced to be disarmed while they're on the clock? 

Even though it appears that there's an appetite for change, the hospital system won't be making any immediate moves to revise its current policy. 

Matt Shahan, CCH CEO, said that it would require input from all levels of the organization before beginning to move forward with a policy change on gun restrictions.

“We would want to bring that information back to you guys so that you approve such a policy with the full view of the organization,” he said.

Dr. Robert Neuwirth said it’s important to consider context and information about how often attacks happen at health care facilities, what kind of risks are involved and what actions other organizations have taken. 

“I think if you go out and just ask, ‘What should we do about this,’ you’ll get a lot of uninformed discussion,” he said.

I doubt you'll see a policy that would allow for all employees and visitors to carry throughout these facilities, but at the very least the revised rules should allow for lawful gun owners to maintain possession of their firearms while they're in non-secure locations within the hospital while offering employees and visitors the ability to safely store their firearms on-site if they do have to enter a "sensitive" setting. 


At the very least, it's good to see Campbell County Health taking a proactive approach to reviewing its current policies. The governor is right that the issue isn't just going to fade away, and if these facilities don't make some changes on their own, a veto-proof majority of lawmakers is likely to force those changes next session. 

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