I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. Doctors should be able to ask their patients anything they want to ask their patients up to and including “Are you now or have you ever been a member of the communist party?” The government has no business dictating what your physician can and can not ask the people in their care, just as it has no business requiring you to answer. Yes, I get it. If docs are “allowed” to ask their patients about communism, or firearms in the home, they’re acting as government spies. Or will, eventually. But the First Amendment is the First Amendment for a reason: freedom of speech is our most important natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right. OK, so, Florida . . .
passed a law prohibiting doctors from asking nine out of ten of their patients who chew gum whether they chew sugarless gun. Wait. That’s not it (70’s reference.) The Gunshine State enacted the Privacy of Firearm Owners Act. The Act prohibits doctors from asking patients about firearms – provided guns aren’t directly relevant to the patients’ care.
Aye there’s the rub. The FL NRA and Co. reckon gun ownership is not a health-related issue. Doctors do. OMG do they ever. Over at theatlantic.com, Dr. James Hamblin goes ramblin’ on and on about his colleagues need – need I tell you! – to talk to their patients about gun safety. Needless to say, he starts by waving the bloody shirt and trotting out the usual misleading, context-free stats.
When police in Texas City, Texas, arrived at a suburban apartment on August 7, they found an eight-year-old boy who was seriously injured. He had been shot in the face, and the shooter was still in the home. His seven-year-old cousin pulled the trigger.
A helicopter swept the victim 40 miles north to a Houston hospital, where he was taken into emergency surgery in critical condition. He is alive, and poised to elude a place among the 3,000 U.S. children who will die this year as a result of gunshot wounds. In 2009, 114 kids died as a result of unintentional gunshots—almost all of them in their own homes, and most commonly shot by other children.
Once again, please note that those 3k children stat includes teenage gang-bangers. The more realistic number: the 114 children who died from negligent firearms discharges in 2009. Which is a whole lot fewer than the 650 under 12 years old who died in car accidents in 2011. Or the 3115 teenagers who died in car accidents in 2010.
Yes, but . . . if docs asking parents (or kids) about guns save one life . . . OK, sure, why not? Seriously and again, if Docs want to ask about guns or under-sink poisons or swimming pools or seat belts, whatever.
But make no mistake: patients should not answer firearms-related questions. Docs are as virulent a group of anti-gunners as you’ll ever encounter outside of a Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America “Grilling for Gun Sense” barbecue.
The American Academy of Pediatrics likens counseling on gun safety to counseling on lead paint avoidance or seat belt use. Pediatricians, the group’s recent policy statement reads, are “urged to counsel parents about the dangers of allowing children and adolescents to have access to guns inside and outside the home.” Doctors are encouraged to promote trigger locks, lock boxes, and gun safes. Some distribute cable locks.
The American College of Physicians is similarly proactive, calling gun violence a public health issue “requiring immediate attention.” The group, of which most practicing internal-medicine doctors are members, declared in its recent position statement: “Physicians must become more active in counseling patients about firearm safety.” The college implores doctors to open that conversation by asking patients (with and without children in their homes) about gun ownership . . .
The American Medical Association calls gun violence a horrific epidemic. In 2011, the group issued a call for doctors to counsel patients on gun safety . . .
The American Medical Association and American College of Physicians have taken clear stances in the realm of gun politics, with the former outspoken in its support of a ban on assault weapons and the latter imploring physicians to become “more involved in community efforts to restrict ownership and sale of handguns.”
What’s up with that? You’d think that Doctors would be fervently pro-gun, given that they’re targets for drug-seeking criminals. You’d also be forgiven for wondering why Docs can’t understand the simple fact that guns save life. Well, it’s simple enough.
Some (most?) doctors believe they are the ultimate guardians of their patients’ health and well-being. And by “health care” and “well being” they mean everything and anything that has to do with their patients’ health and longevity. From smoking to carbon emissions. From baby formula to GMO foods. From seat belts to gun safes to “assault weapons.”
Of course, doctors are not the ultimate guardians of their patients’ health or well-being. Patients are. Just as the government is not the ultimate protector of our natural rights. We are. But some (most?) doctors believe they’re smarter than their patients. So they claim the God-like power to tell their patients what to do. In the form of a question.
Again, doctors have the right to be jerks about guns. And we have the right to advise any patient asked about firearms to tell the Doc it’s none of their business. Or, indeed, why they think it is. I’m sure the answer will be enlightening, but not in the way that the doctor intended.