The police described it as an armed robbery and a hostage situation. Before dawn on Sunday, May, 8th, two robbers stormed into a Walgreens store wearing masks and gloves and carrying guns. Video cameras in the store on Napier Avenue in Benton Township, Michigan captured the whole event. Fortunately, though, Jeremy Hoven, a pharmacist and one of the employees in the store, had a permitted concealed handgun with him. Unfortunately, Walgreens fired Hoven for having a gun at work.
Police Lt. Delmar Lange thought that Hoven had done the right thing firing shots and forcing the robbers to flee. “[Hoven] could see the hostage situation developing. He could not retreat any farther. He was in the back room. If it was me, I would have done the same thing,” Lange told the Detroit Free-Press. Lange thought that the video cameras clearly showed that Hoven had no alternative. The robbers were “very aggressive and very dangerous in what they did and how they did it.”
At least one of the three other workers in the store was also convinced that Hoven did the right thing, sending Hoven a thank-you card with a photograph of his four children.
Other evidence also suggests that Hoven did “the right thing.” The National Crime Victimization Survey shows that defending oneself with a gun is by far the safest course of action when one is confronted by a robber. For example, people who protect themselves with a gun are injured in robberies about 8 percent of the time, but those who behave passively are injured by the criminals 24 percent of the time, a three times higher rate.
Customers with permitted concealed handguns are allowed to take their guns with them into Walgreens, but when this crime occurred there weren’t any customers in the store. Walgreens’ policy means that the only people with guns inside of their stores might very well be criminals.
Police have yet to catch the two robbers, but they believe that one of them was wounded by Hoven. Hopefully, the robber will be arrested when he shows up at a hospital for medical treatment.
Hoven started working at Walgreens in 2006 and became the night shift pharmacist at the Napier Avenue store in 2007. The store was robbed by four men, one carrying a gun, in December 2007. Despite numerous requests for improved security by the store’s workers, Walgreens did change anything. Out of concern for his safety, Hoven got his concealed handgun permit in November 2008.
Ultimately, the only way the employee gun ban will be fixed is if Federal OSHA policy is changed. Some states let employees keep guns locked in their cars in company parking lots. But simply letting Hoven keep his gun in his car obviously wouldn’t have let him get to it in time. Hoven fired his gun only after one of the robbers jumped over the counter and confronted Hoven. The robber was only a few feet from Hoven.
The police and Walgreen employees are glad that Hoven disobeyed the OSHA regulations. However, with President Obama running things, don’t expect the OSHA regulations to change anytime soon.
Those interested in letting Walgreens know that they were wrong to fire Hoven can email the company at firstname.lastname@example.org.