Last night’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy, “Trigger Happy,” went all in on anti-gun messaging. The episode opens with the shocking announcement that the emergency room must prepare to receive an 8-year-old patient with a gunshot wound to the abdomen. Speculation begins immediately with hospital staff wondering if the child was hurt in a drive by, or some other crime, but the audience quickly learns the real cause: Brandon’s mother was a gun owner.
Owen: Brandon's injuries are severe. And we're taking him up to surgery right now.
Amelia: The bullet hit his spinal cord, so at the moment we are evaluating.
Patricia: Stacy, are you okay?
Danielle: Were you shot at?
Stacy: I'm so sorry. I left the room for just a few minutes.
Danielle: Were the boys out front?
Patricia: Did they find the person who did it?
Stacy: No. The boys found your gun. They were playing with it.
Danielle: Your gun? You have a gun?
Patricia: Yes, I do. But it's locked. No. No.
Peter: We were just playing. It went off. Did I kill him?
Owen: No. Peter, no, you didn't. Peter, Brandon's alive, okay? And we're gonna take care of him right now. All right?
Mitch: I'm gonna need to talk to you.
In surgery, the Grey’s Anatomy doctors quickly pile onto the mother. She should be “locked up” for keeping a firearm in the house. Even the ex-Army doctor is against guns, saying, “You need one over there [in war], you don’t need one here.”
Just one doctor on the five-member surgery team sticks up for her Second Amendment rights, only to be told that her gun is more likely to be used against her. Apparently, mansplaining is acceptable when you’re berating a gun owner.
Alex: So, his mom just had a gun laying around.
Owen: She said she had it locked up.
Amelia: The mom should be locked up.
Owen: Well, she might be. It could involuntary manslaughter if...
Alex: Don't even say it. It's not gonna happen.
Amelia: Do you own a gun?
Owen: No. No. No, I, uh, fix bullet holes. I don't make them.
Jo: I just mean you're in the Army. I imagine...
Owen: Well, you need one in the Army. You don't need one here.
Amelia: Well, every day, someone's kid is in an O.R. With a gunshot wound. Every single day.
Alex: When are people gonna learn? It just makes things worse.
Amelia: And people always say they need one for protection. They don't.
Jo: Unless they do. I have a gun.
Alex: Yeah, right.
Jo: I do. I've had one for a long time.
Amelia: You have a gun.
Jo: Just like you said -- for protection
Owen: Have you used it?
Jo: No. I haven't needed to, thank God.
Amelia: Thank God you haven't had it used against you.
Alex: All right. Can we stop?
Alex: It's in the house?
Alex: The gun. Where is it in the house?
Jo: It's in a safe place.
Alex: I didn't even know it was there. I want to know where it is.
Jo: It's in a box under the bed.
Alex: It's under our bed?!
Jo: That's where we'd need it.
Alex: I don't want a gun in my house.
Jo: It's my house, too. It makes me feel safer.
Alex: Does it?
Jo: Have you seen our neighborhood?
Alex: Because you're not safer. You're more likely to get hurt because of a freakin' gun around.
Alex: I got shot once. You know that.
It’s natural to wonder where things went wrong, and “Trigger Happy” goes out of its way to make sure the audience knows this mother did keep her gun locked away, but that it’s just not good enough. Amelia lectures the mother, “Kids watch. They pick up everything you do.” The messaging is clear: even if you lock away your firearms, children will find them and shoot each other. The only responsible thing to do is get rid of them all together.
As Dr. Jo Wilson (Camilla Luddington) later emotionally admits, she bought her gun at a time when she was living on the streets in her car and “didn't value my life all that much.” Now that she’s matured and values her life, it’s time to get rid of the gun. Her purchase was driven by fear, she’s “outgrown” it, and she doesn’t “need” it anymore.
Jo: I lived in my car when I was 16 years old. Every night, trying to fall asleep, I would listen to the voices--people going by, people who had nothing going on, nothing going for them, nothing to lose, scared to death that they would break in and take my stuff, take me. This gun made me feel like I had something, something on them. But then, today, that little boy will never walk again.
Alex: Jo, he's still alive.
Jo: Barely. You know, back then I, I didn't value my life all that much, but it's different now. I've outgrown this. I don't need it anymore. I don't want it.
I’d like to see the Grey’s Anatomy writers say with a straight face to any of the thousands of Americans who have needed to use their firearms in self-defense that they’ve outgrown their guns. Or say it to those who couldn’t use a gun when they needed it. What would they say to someone like Amanda Collins, who was raped at gunpoint in a parking garage across the street from the campus police station. A law-abiding, concealed carry permit holder, Collins was left defenseless by the state’s “gun-free zone” laws.
At least the episode was honest about where it got its story arc. “Trigger Happy” ended with a public service announcement from the anti-gun Brady Center.