Anyone who has spent time on a city bus knows that bus drivers probably have some wild stories. Fights aren’t completely uncommon, for example, and those are one of the more tame examples I can imagine. Then again, I have a vivid imagination.
However, a Florida bus driver has a harrowing story, one that prompted him to reach out and ask for the city to allow him and his fellow drivers to be armed while on the job.
Hillsborough bus driver Schnaider Prophete calls the rider who saved his life his guardian angel.
But he also told the transit agency’s board of directors Monday that he could’ve protected himself if he and other drivers were allowed to carry guns on board while working.
Prophete is the second Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority bus driver attacked this year.
Thomas Dunn was killed in May when a rider slit his throat. Then last month, a rider attacked Prophete with mace and a box cutter following a fare dispute. Prophete was hospitalized and required surgery for his wounds.
The attacks prompted the agency to install safety shields around drivers, bring in counselors and host a safety summit.
But Prophete said he would feel safer if he were allowed to carry a gun.
“The shields that we have on the bus, it’s better than nothing,” he told the board. “We have to allow the driver to legally — those who are qualified with licenses — to protect themselves and protect the community.”
Prophete, an Army veteran, noted that he was in more danger driving a bus in Florida than he was in a war zone. After all, he was properly equipped for dangerous situations when he was at war.
He’s right that the shields are better than nothing, but they’re not a whole lot. They don’t protect anyone else, and they don’t give the drivers any options beyond sitting and watching horrors unfold.
Allowing those who are licensed and want to carry to do so would change that.
It would also likely put an end to people trying crap like that on city buses, too, at least after the first few criminals are shot and killed by pistol-toting drivers.
Look, a lot of people take the bus. They range from businessmen who want to do some work during their morning commute to those who have absolutely no other choice but to travel by bus. That includes more than a few people with profound mental illnesses. Most of those are disturbing but generally harmless.
Some are anything but harmless.
Prophete is only here because someone who wasn’t harmless was stopped by a law-abiding citizen with a gun. What would we be talking about if that man hadn’t been there? We’d be talking about a dead bus driver.
I certainly understand where Prophete is coming from. He has a right to defend his life in the face of a deadly threat. A “safety shield” isn’t enough, in my opinion. Drivers have the right to demand more when it comes to their safety. They have a right to be armed.