That”s the polling question of the day in Canada, on morning television. The story involves an elderly woman in Nova Scotia who suffers from multiple sclerosis and cannot walk. She was receiving health assistance from employees of Northwood Home Care. One morning, the Northwood sent an employee who had never been to the home before. In the home, the worker saw an unloaded hunting rifle, with the safety on, and a trigger lock.
The worker immediately fled the home in fear, because the locked, unloaded rifle was not in a gun cabinet. The elderly woman’s husband is a hunter, whose gun is lawfully registered, but he had forgotten to return the locked, unloaded gun to his gun cabinet.
Northwood Home Care refuses to send employees back to the home. According to a Canadian Press Association report, “The agency said its workers fear for their safety because of the hunting rifles.” (“Rifle kills home care,” Halifax Chronicle Herald, March 21, 2006.)
The health care workers themselves would seem to be in need of mental health treatment. The Northwoods workers plainly suffer from a serious case of hoplophobia. (From the Greek word “hoplo”, meaning “weapon.”)
Just as many normal people dislike spiders, many other normal people dislike guns. A few mentally ill people have such debilitaing fear of spiders (aracnophobia) that their fear impedes their functioning in their daily lives. Similarly, hoplophobes suffer from such extreme and irrational fears of guns that their daily functioning is impaired. A health care worker who refuses to provide health care would obviously be suffering from impairment of her normal daily functioning.
I hope that the publicity surrounding the incident persuades Northwood Home Care (Halifax, N.S.) to resume providing health care to the elderly woman, and also encourages Northwood to seek mental health treatment for the hoplophobics among its employees.