Doctors save lives every day in hospitals around the country, but it’s not often we get to hear about one of them doing it in quite such a violent and heroic fashion. Dr. Lee Silverman did just that on Thursday, however, shooting an invading gunman to protect himself and others at Sister Marie Lenahan Wellness Center in Darby, Pennsylvania.
Gunfire erupted in the psychiatric ward of the PA hospital at around 2:15 yesterday afternoon when the alleged assailant – Richard Plotts – killed his caseworker and turned the gun on Silverman. Silverman, 52, was grazed by a bullet but returned fire of his own, putting Plotts down and allowing him to be taken into custody without any further deaths or injuries.
From early comments, it appears that Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan has no intention of filing charges against Dr. Silverman. The psychiatrist, Whelan told reporters, “from all accounts, would have acted in self defense.”
Though Silverman was in violation of hospital policy by carrying his gun on him, Yeadon Police Chief Donald Molineux was quick to side with the doctor. “Without a doubt, I believe the doctor saved lives.”
Stories like this one often go underreported in the media because they show the other side of the gun debate. We get plenty of the first side, the side that says more guns equal more gun fatalities, more accidents, and more mass shootings. This story – and there are many like it – says the opposite. It says that as long as gun control is strict, only criminals will have the firepower. If we allow more law-abiding citizens to carry, crazy criminals will be stopped sooner. After all, as the old saying goes, when seconds count, police are only minutes away.
To be sure, Dr. Silverman is a hero for his actions on Thursday. Not only did he prevent himself and others from falling victim to the assailant’s attack, but he also gave the media a perfect example of responsible gun ownership despite rules to the contrary. He risked his job by carrying the gun into a workplace where it was forbidden, but there’s a very good chance he would not be alive today if he hadn’t.
As for Plotts, we have another example of why it’s so important to address America’s so-called “gun problem” from a mental health angle. Hopefully, law enforcement officials will look into the man’s background and find out whether there could have been steps taken to keep a gun out of his hands. More likely as not, though, the answer here is not the addition of new gun laws but rather the enforcement of those already on the books.