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Florida To Prohibit Doctors From Asking About Guns

Florida To Prohibit Doctors From Asking About Guns

A bill making its way through the Florida legislature would make the state the first in the nation to prohibit doctors from asking patients if they own guns.  The bill is intended to circumvent pediatricians who routinely ask parents if they have guns at home and, if so, if those guns are stored safely.

Pediatricians defend the practice, saying it is about preventing avoidable and accidental gun injuries.  Gun rights advocates accuse the doctors of promoting a political anti-gun agenda.  They take those claims one step further and call the question an invasion of a gun owner’s privacy.

NRA lobbyists helped write the bill that broadly bans health professionals from asking about guns.  Republican Gov. Rick Scott is expected to sign the measure.

The bill avoids a blanked gag on doctors by allowing them to ask questions about guns if it the doctor feels it is directly relevant to the patient’s care or safety.  This way doctors can still counsel suicidal teens–an exception that seems logical and clear.  But what is not so clear is when that line of questioning can begin.

North Carolina and Alabama are considering similar measures.

This bill seems largely to be a solution in search of a problem.  Gun owners are not damaged in any way by a doctor asking if their firearms are stored safely, and for new parents, these kinds of checks do nothing but reinforce that gun accidents are very real and very deadly.  These kinds of questions are legitimate public health inquiries and serve a far greater good than protecting an individual’s pride (or perhaps shame) for arming his or herself.

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photo courtesy of gideon tsang via Flickr

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100 comments

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11:10AM PST on Dec 30, 2012

John D. posted: '... no one should answer such a loaded question. it gives too much ammunition to those exstreme bueocrats that would use this info to ban guns. if they were truly smart they would promote safe handling of guns. and safe use of guns not this slick scam. this seems more like something comeing from a corrupt state like NJ NY MASS ILLINOIS or ROHDE ISLAND. but then again most of these medical people are left wing anti freedom corrupt people anyway. ...


John D., safe storage is part of safe handling of firearms, and one which is particularly important when children are in the house.

The information was not used to ban guns, merely used by physicians to make people aware that they were liable for negligence if their guns were not safely stored around children and an injury or death resulted, which is hardly a 'slick scam'.

Do you seriously think that freedom includes allowing children to play with guns and potentially shooting themselves, a parent, sibling, friend, perhaps a neighbour outside a window?

Or that freedom involves government officials impeding the freedom of speech rights of physicians in advising people of potentially hazardous conditions?

If you don't believe in safe storage to protect children, how about to prevent a burglar from finding it and waiting at home for you to walk in so he can threaten you with your own, easily accessible gun?

9:04AM PST on Dec 30, 2012

Leave the doctors alone, they are only trying to help the situation. Lawmakers come up with this kind of foolishness instead of addressing the many real problems of their states.

2:14PM PST on Dec 28, 2012

I'm with Armand F. on this one.

12:13PM PST on Dec 28, 2012

(continued)


Certainly, doctors should not harass or nag their patients - but this sounds more like a start on eliminating the general knowledge from gun owners of liability for criminal negligence for any injuries/deaths resulting from unsafely stored guns.

After all, if people are not aware of the likelihood/consequences of accidents resulting from their keeping guns where they are accessible to children, (or unauthorized others, potentially including burglars) they are more likely to purchase more firearms than they have safe storage for, thereby making more money for manufacturers than otherwise.

And where the profits of ruthless corporations/organizations are concerned, suspicions arises, especially where a potential for harm/death may result.

Too many Republican officials have shown themselves to be representing powerful commercial, rather than their constituent's, interests...

12:11PM PST on Dec 28, 2012

(continued)

Ninety percent of all accidental shootings are tied to easy access to household firearms.xlvi
Moreover, there is evidence suggesting that safe storage does, in fact, work to reduce accidental shootings. In 1989, Florida became the first state to pass a Child Access Prevention or ―CAP‖ law.xlvii ...
CAP laws impose criminal penalties for negligent firearm storage when a child gains access to the gun and uses it to cause harm. xlviii
The year after the Florida law was passed, accidental shootings plummeted 50 percent. xlix
Such a dramatic decline suggests that the CAP law motivated more gun owners to follow safe storage practices and that these practices led to a reduction in unintentional shootings. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Associationl supports this proposition. Two physicians studied the effects of CAP laws in twelve states and found that accidental firearm deaths of children in those states were 23% lower than expected. ...

Yes, liability in such cases always exists - but Florida passed a specifically child-protective law, and the results of raised awareness have been made evident...

Certainly, doctors should not harass or nag their patients - but this sounds more like a start on eliminating the general knowledge from gun owners of liability for criminal negligence for any injuries/deaths resulting from unsafely stored guns.

After all, if people are not aware of the likelihood/consequences of accide

12:10PM PST on Dec 28, 2012

The focus of, typically, Republicans on telling physicians what they can and can't do seems to be growing.

There was a push for laws telling physicians that they have to persistently suggest the purchase of (lucrative, if sometimes extremely damaging/deadly) pharma drugs for patients who smoke, whether they want to quit or not; there's the control Republicans are trying to exert over what information - even if cruel/inaccurate - physicians give abortion patients and what treatments they can give, ranging from intrusive, medically unnecessary and cruel vaginal ultrasounds to telling doctors that they cannot give abortions even to potentially save the mother's health and life; and now physicians are not to attempt to reduce shooting accidents in an area where there's evidently a preventable problem by asking people if their guns are safely stored.

http://www.saf.org/journal/14/lock,stockandbarrel.pdf

Lock, Stock and Barrel:
Civil Liability for Allowing
Unauthorized Access to Firearms
Andrew J. McClurg

... Risk number one: accidental shootings. Accidental shootings kill hundreds of children and teenagers each year. In 1995, 440 children and teens were killed in accidental shootings.xliv
In 1994, firearms accidents were the fifth leading cause of accidental death for children under fourteen.xlv
Ninety percent of all accidental shootings are tied to easy access to household firearms.xlvi
Moreover, there is evidence suggesting that safe storage does, in fact,

11:30AM PST on Dec 28, 2012

if you have a patient that comes in and says he is going to kill himself by shooting himself or has been found with a gun in his hand are medical personnel supposed to ignore this and let him go home to kill himself or ask the family if he has guns that need to be removed from home to protect him until he is able to cope with situation again? I guess i would have to go to jail to protect him.

5:24AM PDT on Jul 21, 2011

John D.May 18, 2011 12:05 PM:
Australia had a population of 19 millions (2000) and the US 281 millions (2000). There were 28,663 deaths related to firearms in the US in the year 2000 and in Australia 326. After the 1996 Tasmanian massacre, the Australian government banned several automatic guns and it has not been any shootings such as the Port Arthur killing spree since then.

Doctors are not left-wing radicals, anti-gun promoters or anti-freedom people. Medical professionalists that take their jobs seriously have only one intention and it is to SAVE lifes whereever possible! Ever heard of the phrase "Do no harm"? Guess not!

8:45AM PDT on May 19, 2011

Sounds to me like there is a way around this foolish law. Rather than asking if the patient owns a gun, merely state that if they own a gun it is in the best interest and safety of the newborn that the gun be properly locked and stored so that the child can not have access to it. That way the doctor can protect his new patient, the child, and get around asking if the mom or dad own a gun.

12:05PM PDT on May 18, 2011

no one should answer such a loaded question. it gives too much ammunition to those exstreme bueocrats that would use this info to ban guns. if they were truly smart they would promote safe handling of guns. and safe use of guns not this slick scam. this seems more like something comeing from a corrupt state like NJ NY MASS ILLINOIS or ROHDE ISLAND. but then again most of these medical people are left wing anti freedom corrupt people anyway.

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