Clay County in Florida recently welcomed St. Vincent's Medical Center in Middleburg, its newest hospital and the first to be built in the county in forty years. Indeed it is a high-tech wonder, replete with biometric registration, a cutting-edge air management system that provides a curtain of highly filtered air encircling surgical areas, and a remarkable first-of-its-kind in Florida "Tele-Health" system that links patients with doctors 24 hours per day/7 days a week. Yet for all its technical innovation and attention to detail, the hospital made what may be regarded as one of the most ironic and laughable errors ever seen in gun-rights circles.
Much like school administrators, hospital administrators generally tend to favor the idea of so-called "gun-free" zones, and many hospitals have signs and/or policies which ban the carry of firearms in their facilities. This naive concept, that a sign will somehow magically deter someone who intends harm, is beyond the realm of fantasy. In an article at National Review Online, renowned researcher, political commentator, and former chief economist at the United States Sentencing Commission, Dr. John R. Lott, Jr. has observed -
Particularly telling, all the multiple-victim public shootings in Western Europe have occurred in places where civilians are not permitted to carry guns. The same is true in the United States: All the public shootings in which more than three people have been killed have occurred in places where civilians may not legally bring guns.
Dr. Lott has since acknowledged that there have been one or two exceptions, most notably the shooting in Tucson, AZ at which Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was seriously wounded. Nonetheless, the point remains valid in the overwhelming majority of such cases over the last several decades. By definition, only the law-abiding can be depended upon to abide the law (or signs for that matter).
In its haste to make sure that law-abiding, licensed concealed carriers did not venture into the hospital, the administration at St. Vincent's followed suit and placed a warning sign (see photo) on the entrance door. It reads, "Pursuant to Section 30.06, Penal Code (Trespass by Holder of License to Carry a Concealed Handgun), A person licensed under Article 4413(29ee), revised Statutes (Concealed Handgun Laws), may not enter this property with a concealed Handgun". Sounds ominously official, doesn't it?
Unfortunately for St. Vincent's, the sign has absolutely no legal weight in Florida, since it cites Texas, not Florida law. Commonly referred to as a 30.06 sign in Texas, when properly worded, sized, and placed, a licensed carrier can be charged with a class-A misdemeanor if caught carrying a firearm at that posted location. But alas, even if the sign at St. Vincent's Medical Center in Middleburg, Florida were at a similar facility in Midland, Texas, it still would not be legally enforceable under current Texas law!
According to Texas Penal Code section 30.06, the proper wording is "Pursuant to Section 30.06, Penal Code (trespass by holder of license to carry a concealed handgun), a person licensed under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code (concealed handgun law), may not enter this property with a concealed handgun". The hospital's sign refers to Article 4413(29ee), the Vernon Civil Statutes, which were obsoleted by an amendment to Texas law on September 1, 1997, and signs containing the old reference have not been enforceable there for over sixteen years!
The question that comes to mind is, did someone at the hospital simply pull verbiage off the internet without knowledge of applicable statute, or did some slick salesman finally make a profit on an unsold sign that had been taking up space in Texas since 1997? A call made to Mr. Greg George, Director of Security and Safety at St. Vincents Medical Center is to date, unreturned.