Tieman: Opportunity for compromise on guns in hospitals

by Jeff Tieman, President and Chief Executive Officer, VAHHS I met my friend Mark Glaze when I was a senior in high school and he was a senior in college. He hosted me on a visit to my prospective campus in Colorado Springs. Right away I knew Mark was wicked smart. He was charming. He was student body president and his charisma told me he would be so much more.

And he was. Mark went on to do amazing things. As an attorney and advocate, he led work on campaign finance reform and same-sex marriage, among other important issues. But it was his pioneering and brave work in the space of gun safety that made him a hero to so many.

A frequent guest on MSNBC and Fox News, Mark took his story to the people. He was always quick to point out that he didn’t want to prevent people from owning or using guns – he just wanted them to do so safely and without threatening or harming innocent people. His own father was a gun store owner.

Mark Glaze

Late last year, Mark succumbed to long-time personal demons when he took his own life. The world lost a giant that day. Upon learning of his death, I quickly pledged to do what Mark taught me so early and often – to be a fierce advocate. To stand up for what is right and sensible. To be strategic and careful and not afraid of my own message.

Recently at VAHHS, we worked hard to pass a bill that would ban firearms in hospitals. Caregivers can unfortunately be the victims of violence at work, and we wanted to add a measure of protection for them.

The bill we supported, S. 30, passed both chambers of the State House but was vetoed last week by Governor Phil Scott, who did not object to the hospital gun ban but another provision of the bill.

S.30 requires someone to pass a background check before they can purchase a firearm. This is a change from current law, which allows Vermonters to buy a gun if the background check is not complete in three days (referred to as the Charleston Loophole). Most background checks come through in minutes, and nearly all within the three-day time frame. Occasionally they do not, however, and if the background check isn’t complete within 30 days, the application expires and the buyer must start over.

The good news is that Governor Scott identified a compromise for a seven-day wait. I think our lawmakers should take Governor Scott up on his offer so we can do right by our health care heroes.

Compromise automatically means we don’t all get all we want. In this case, there is an opportunity to protect hospital personnel and address the Charleston loophole in a reasonable way. Let’s not let the perfect be the enemy of the very good on this one.

My friend Mark would have wanted me to say so.