The following testimony was submitted to the Senate Judiciary on 3/8/2021.
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For the record I am Bob DePino, Vice-President of Gun Owners of Vermont. I spend many hours watching and analyzing testimony and researching the various anti-rights legislation introduced each year in Montpelier.
During testimony in the Senate Judiciary committee the question was raised [edit: and again during the Democratic Caucus], “why would someone want to carry a firearm in a hospital or emergency room?” I would like to answer that question.
Here are a few events where the citizens were not permitted to carry firearms in “gun-free” hospital zones:
2/24/2021: (Pennsylvania) – A patient stabs a female doctor in the head and face while receiving treatment.
1/8/2021: (Minnesota) A man stabs his wife at St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester.
3/21/2019: (Hawaii) – Three people are stabbed in a Hilo hospital.
3/10/2019: (North Carolina) – A man stabbed an employee at Johnston Medical Center while waiting in ER. 10/14/2017: (Maryland) – A woman stabbed her husband to death in the hospital waiting room.
7/21/2017: (Massachusetts) – Nurse brutally stabbed in a hospital by schizophrenic suspect.
10/28/2009: (Massachusetts) – Nurse stabbed repeatedly by psychiatric patient.
“Police said that Desrosiers was stabbed so many times that there weren’t many areas on the doctor’s body that were untouched.” – The subject was fatally shot by an off-duty security guard (who would be unable to carry in Vermont under S30).
However, one of the most infamous of all hospital attacks in American memory occurred four decades ago just fifty miles from the southern border of Vermont in “gun-free” Massachusetts. The event still brings headlines to the local papers as recently as 2014.
The event occurred on June 23rd, 1980, at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Massachusetts. I will quote the account of the event from the January, 3rd 2014 article on MassLive.com:
“On the morning of June 23, Robinson threw drain cleaner at his wife and his granddaughter and took out a boning knife from his back pocket. He stabbed his wife several times, and she escaped and went to a neighbor to call police.
Robinson went to a nephew’s home and said his wife threw acid at him and injured his eye.
The nephew drove him to the emergency room entrance. Once inside the hospital, Robinson went to several people he did not know but who were waiting in the area.
He slashed the throat of Doris Benoit. He pushed Jolene Bernardi – who was there with her 8-year-old son – to the floor and stabbed her in her left arm and right side. He then rushed toward Bernardi’s mother, Mary Santucci, and stabbed her in the stomach.
Rose Lombardi and her 5-year-old son Anthony were there to pick up a friend. Lombardi saw what was happening, picked up her son and ran to the parking lot with Robinson in pursuit.
Once he caught up to her he began stabbing her while her son was yelling “Mommy, help me.”
Lombardi grabbed her son and started toward the ambulance entrance. Anthony stumbled and fell and Robinson pounced on him and stabbed him in the chest and back.
A security guard, Harold Ferrier, noticed Robinson and told him to drop the knife. Robinson headed toward Ferrier, who hit him twice with his club, but then Ferrier was stabbed in the back.
Ferrier fell to the ground and saw Robinson run back to Anthony Lombardi and cut the child’s neck, severing the windpipe, esophagus, left carotid artery and right jugular vein.
Another security guard, Sgt. George Bishop, got Robinson to drop the knife, and he was taken into custody.”
THIS occurred in a matter of seconds. Five innocent people were stabbed and traumatized, and a small boy lay dying in a pool of his own blood. He died a short time later as the result of this vicious attack.
From the analysis of the case COMMONWEALTH vs. WILLIE ROBINSON, we learn that the judge in this trial tried to protect the jury by only allowing BLACK & WHITE photos of the bodies due to the attacker’s “extreme atrocity and cruelty.”
Had anyone in that waiting room been lawfully armed, Anthony Lombardi may have grown up to be known as something more than just the victim of a sadistic killer.
Massachusetts and the other state hospitals listed above are all gun-free zones. The atrocities committed at hospitals bear indisputable evidence that criminals cannot be stopped until it is too late in gun-free zones.
We can’t protect innocent lives with a sign and a criminal statute.
The gun-owning community is sick and tired of being lectured that “Vermont is not immune from gun violence.” Vermont is not like any other state because the deterrence of armed self-defense has kept our citizens safe since 1791.
There is no rational reason to create gun-free zones out of our hospitals by creating a statute to criminalize the lawful carry of firearms. And, as Senator Baruth said during testimony, Vermont gun owners have three levels of lawful authority to bear arms for their defense. These levels of lawful authority cannot be revoked based on one legislator’s irrational fear of the citizens of Vermont.
Putting the physical safety of Vermonters at risk for a false promise of security based on unfounded fear is unconscionable.
S30, and its sister gun-free zone bill, S63, need to be buried before our state becomes another entry in the long list of government-created victimizations above.
Gun Owners of Vermont
2/24/2021: Pennsylvania Hospital patient stabs doctor in head, face while being treated.
1/8/2021: (Minnesota) Trial set in Rochester hospital stabbing
3/21/2019: (Hawaii) – Police: Man charged with Hilo hospital stabbing
3/10/2019: (North Carolina) – Man charged in hospital employee stabbing in Smithfield
10/14/2017: (Maryland) – Police ID Woman Charged With Murdering Husband At Hopkins Hospital
6/15/2017: (First Article – Massachusetts) – Cops: Man who stabbed nurse was unhappy with hospital care
7/21/2017: (Second Article – Massachusetts) – Nurse brutally stabbed on the job pleads for hospital security law
10/28/2009: (Massachusetts) Man shot to death after stabbing doctor at MA hospital
1/3/2014: (Massachusetts) – Willie Robinson, convicted of 1980 murderous rampage at Springfield hospital, denied parole for 5th time
COMMONWEALTH vs. WILLIE ROBINSON
14 Mass. App. Ct. 591
June 8, 1982 – November 3, 1982