Florida passed the Firearm Owners’ Privacy Act back in 2011. When legislators were debating the bill prohibiting doctors from asking questions about patients’ firearms, I opined that it was a really stupid idea. Doctors should be able to ask their patients anything that want to ask. I know the risks: doctors could create an unofficial, federally accessible firearms registry, including gun-related information in their patients’ medical records. I understand that anything anti-gunners oppose is inherently worth considering. But freedom of speech is what it is, and it cuts both ways. Patients are free to tell their doctor to FOAD if he or she starts asking unwelcome firearms-related questions or begins to push an anti-gun agenda. Anyway, the bill passed, got signed into law and, now, survived legal challenge. The NRA is behind it 100 percent. What’s your take? Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

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99 Responses to Question of the Day: FL Firearm Owners’ Privacy Act. Good Thing or Bad?

  1. Florida’s FOPA is a great thing. Doctors have no business being agents of the state, especially when it’s at the expense of the patients who are paying for a medical service and getting a spy instead.

    First Amendment my @ss. The doctors’ First Amendment rights stop where the patients’ wallets begin.

    • As healthcare becomes more and more socialized, unfortunately these types of items will be implemented and required “at facilities that receive reimbursement from CMS for services”. In other words, if you want to be able to accept Medicare and Medicaid, you’re gonna do what they tell you. And as more and more Americans are drawn onto both government programs by design of the ACA, health orgs will have a very hard time surviving without that money.

      I am in the process of divorcing my healthcare budget from an insurance policy entirely, carrying one only for catastrophic coverage, specifically so my providers are accountable to *me* if they want to get paid.

    • I agree, they really have no business asking if you own a gun, unless of course you keep showing up at the doctors office or ER with strange holes in your body. Then they should probably consider you a risk, but still, asking whether someone owns a gun should be voluntary information, and given only if the gun owner feels like it is good to do so.

    • Completely concur.

      And, I might add Ralph, we both remember the push in the early 90’s during the Clinton health care circus all the talk of using the medical community to “help deal with the gun violence issue.”

      The policy twerps in DC have been going at gunowners through the medical community for at least 20 years now. With Obamacare now in place, all states should have a law similar to Florida’s.

    • Any law preventing a doctor from practicing his profession in the best manner possible is a violation of his first amendment rights. It’s not about political correctness. If there is a LAW preventing someone from using speech or writing, that is a direct violation of their rights. What makes your second amendment rights stronger than my first amendment rights? Then when a woman who calls the hospital afraid for her life is killed by a drunken husband with a gun, you’ll blame the doctor.

      All you who complain about these efforts to curb gun violence need to give a better solution than “more guns.” That is not a solution and you know it.

  2. Even if your dr asks you I do believe it is well within your rights to not answer or even give a false answer as that has nothing to do with a dr exam

      • “Barrycare” is the only law that I’ve ever seen that removes a professional’s right to free speech. The NRA had it inserted in the law in direct violation of first amendment freedoms. See the section entitled “Second Amendment Protections” in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

    • bigred, please learn a little about “mental illness.” About 65% of the country has had a “mental illness,” including a period of depression etc.

      If you mean a person the doctor thinks is dangerous, the doctors responsibility is to tell authorities the PERSON is dangerous. Dangerous mentally ill people kill more people with knives and bludgeoning than with guns. And if you are worried about suicide, having a gun increases risk of suicide by gun, but in any given demographic does NOT increase overall suicide risk — people just use other means if they don’t have a gun. If the doctor believe the person to be a suicide risk than owning a gun is irrelevant; and again the door should per se contact authorities.

      Legally owning a gun is a per se DECREASE in risk to a person and their household members. Legal gun owners are the class of people LEAST likely to have had criminal issues. Prior criminal issues are the predictor for future violence.

      If docts are to ask anything they should ask if the person has a criminal record, has a household member with a criminal record, is dating someone with one works with anyone with a criminal record – those are significant elevators of risk.

      What do you think the ACLU would do if Florida doctors started to ask kids if their mom’s live in boyfriend had ever been arrested? Or if they know if their parents or siblings had been so they could record it in a database and forward it to an insurance company?

  3. If my doc asked me i would say that’s none of your business. Of course it may be relevant if I had lead poisoning. Simply put, Dr’s should stick to the medical. It’s none of their business, until it is. A blanket law? Seems odd but I live in ny so I’m pro any law that advances gun rights . Not sure this one does though.

  4. This is an easy one. My doctor shouldn’t ask questions not pertinent to me or my kids health. Unless my doc is a shrink and thinks I am a danger to myself or others, I can not see a reason for asking about firearms in the home, period end of story.
    There are many other questions I find disturbing as well. I simply handed the pages back to the doctor and told them politely they are not relevant to my medical care. I have also given written orders to not ask my children such questions or hand them such a form to fill out. I don’t want to be some data collection point.
    The government needs to get out of healthcare.

    • My doctor shouldn’t ask questions not pertinent to me or my kids health.

      That’s not a good excuse. Their reasoning is that it is pertinent to the health of you and your kids. They ask you if your guns are safely locked away in a safe (the health of your kids). They monitor your comments to them, especially if you are depressed (you have guns, you may commit suicide). It has happened, more than once. A woman in WI or MN, I forget, just got her guns back after a long battle with the police and health care system because her doctor, knowing she was a gun owner, turned her in for depression and so possible “danger to herself.”

      • Their reasoning is that it is pertinent to the health of you and your kids.

        I disagree. If the feds want to know if I own firearms, they can ask the state government (who knows I have a carry permit). I am disinclined to put that information in a federally-administered database the feds can rummage through at will. Maybe I would feel otherwise if they’d been better about oversight and due process with the NSA, but what’s done is done. Trust has been lost, and they will need to work hard to regain it. The current administration isn’t even trying.

        While I do think it would be good to identify people at risk and prevent suicides, this isn’t the way to do it.

        • I’m not disagreeing with you! I’m just saying that THEIR reasoning is that it IS pertinent to the health of you and your kids.

      • Excuse or not, it is none of the doctor’s business to know if a patient has guns.

        If Depression is a risk, how about road rage, anger, or jealousy. How does a physician screen for that???

        Any normal person experiences those emotions at some point in their life. I do not want a doctor knowing anything past medical information necessary to treat me or my family.

        Maybe we could also ask the doctor if he has guns, or how many wives he’s had, or how much debt he owes. You know, because all those things are private…

  5. This Florida law did not happen in a vacuum.

    The Federal Government was trying to get gun questions into the standard history using the Affordable Care Act and acting through the AMA. The NRA is reacting to this efforts.

    It should not be a standard part of the medical history to ask about firearms in the home. If the AMA could be trusted, and medical records were truly private, it would still be objectionable, because the doctor would be giving the AMA’s position, which is anti-gun.

    But the doctors cannot be trusted and the medical records are not private. If the information is gathered, it will be used to create a national database. The government wants that database, and they do not care what institutions they have to destroy in order to get it.

  6. My wife was given a document by a doctor asking if there was a gun in the house. The answer to the question is either yes or no. If you answer yes or do not answer the question, you have told them you have guns. If you answer no, you have lied. The document is protected by HIPAA, so the doctor cannot release that information himself, bit… Obamacare calls for centralizing all medical records into a government controlled computer system, and when HIPAA was put into law, the government created themselves a huge exemption to HIPAA. I told my wife this is one of those times where lying is moral, and it is okay to walk out to find another doctor.

    • citizen medical records have been acessible by federal agents for years now. If NSA contractors are passing around private photos from emails and texts, imagine what embarrassing info is being shared about celebs, politicians, etc. And you trust THIS Executive Action Admin, and Stonewalling Contempt of Court DOJ not to abuse doctor-patient confidential info, RF?

  7. I think this is more of a safe guard than anything else.
    Should total confiscation be attempted, they have to figure out who has firearms and through doctors is probably the easiest way.
    Now, if there is a very specific problem where a child has lead poisoning or something and the doctor thinks it might be related to firearms, that is the only situation where the law could cause problems. There are pretty much no other situations where the doctor has any need to ask.

  8. You have a blind spot on this one, Robert.

    The AMA is a political organization and they have an overtly anti-gun agenda.

    They are working hand-in-glove with the government.

    This is a toxic mix, and Florida was right to put an end to it.

    Ideally, this law would not be necessary. Ideally, doctors would stick to medicine, and would not be advancing a anti-gun agenda. Ideally, doctors would be maintaining distance from the state, and not acting as information collectors for the state. But we do not live in such an ideal world.

    • You should know that the AMA does not represent America’s physicians, despite the name (and reputation). The AMA can claim only about 15% of the country’s physicians as members. Fifteen percent! What does that tell you? 🙂

      • It only took 3% to overthrow the Brits. Had the founding fathers had 15% Quebecers might be speaking with a New York accent now.

  9. Speaking of lead poisoning, it is my understanding that the lead used in casting bullets is an inactive form and not likely to cause problems in terms if dust. Witness that in my 5 years of living in NV surrounded by people who cast and reload (read: cheap) I have had only two kids with elevated lead levels, both due to toys from China (read: our future overlords). I think with regards to this, the less government interferes in general the better off we all are.

    • I wish I knew more about this topic. During childhood I have been exposed to multiple sources of lead; and, now I’m shooting with regularity. I found this statement: “Lead dust inhaled into the lungs is highly bioavailable, with an absorption rate near 100%” in http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5423a1.htm doesn’t sound encouraging. A big distinction needs to be made for indoor vs. outdoor ranges. Doubtlessly, there is quite a lot of natural dilution of lead dust in the air in an outdoor range. An indoor range would need expensive, maintained and effective ventilation to achieve the same results as the great outdoors. Inhalation of lead dust strikes me as intrinsically dangerous. Whether it is an issue at outdoor / indoor-well-ventelated ranges is an important question. If it is, perhaps we should consider some sort of masking.
      – – – It’s an entirely different proposition as to whether lead on our hands, faces or clothing is a potentially serious problem. Dust on clothing might become airborne again. Any dust on any surface is apt to be ingested. Whether such ingested lead is enough, and in a bioavailable form, seems a less obvious proposition than inhalation.
      – – – I’d appreciate it, and we would all benefit from, a reference to specific research on this topic. (I.e., more than it seems like a good idea to do a bunch of things that might not really be necessary if the vectors for contamination were empirically shown to be not-significant.)

  10. If you want to stop the Doctor from asking, tell him you’ll answer his question when he answers yours, whether or not he’s a pedophile.

    • Your confusing doctors with Catholic priests… Or am I just confusing you with a body part that excretes only excrement?

  11. Freedom of speech is an INDIVIDUAL right not a government right. Once the government forced medical records to be electronic and accessible by the state, doctors became agents of the state and therefore lose their 1st amendment rights. It’s no different than a cop asking random people for their ID and asking if they have guns in their home.

  12. Does your doctor ask if you have a pool, drive a car, store cleaning chemicals or gasoline, live near a busy street, sky dive, bungee jump or ride a bicycle? I’m sure you can add to the list.

    How about a Hill Street Blue – Esk “Let’s be careful out there” from the Doc and leave it at that.

  13. I have the flu, someone in my household has a flu, what does having guns in my house have to do with curing my ailment?

    One more thing, the way the system is now setup, I have zero trust in my doctor. There was a time when there was doctor patient privilege, that is now lost. Everything can be used against you. Gee, doc I have been feeling depressed, OMG! OMG! call the authorities this guy may have gun and want to shoot himself!

    You can’t joke, you can’t tell the truth because doctors MHO have become an extension of the government and they are just another way to get you into jail and anything you say may be used against you.

    I have one doctor, who I know is a gun guy and have been duck hunting together and will freely talk. I have another doctor where I feel I am under interrogation and he gets the absolute minimum answers from me and I have and will lie if I have to.

    Are doctors suppose to help you? Or, are they just another extension of the political/judicial system? When all trust is lost, can the best medical outcome still be possible?

    If doctors had simply refused to get involved and remained politically neutral when it comes to patient care, then we would not need these stupid laws. But, since many doctors believe they are another police function to have your guns removed, they can go FOAD!

  14. Thankfully, the closest thing I’ve ever been asked is, “do you feel safe in your home”, to which I gave a puzzled look. Trust me doc, I’m not afraid to swing back 🙂 . The question of F/As in the house will get them a walkout. Nobody’s business, either way.

  15. This is not a 1st amendment issue. The doctors are not expressing their personal beliefs, they are asking government mandated questions, and government mandated questions are not covered by the first amendment. This is another one of those misconceptions that are all too common these days that the bill of rights applies to the government, and not the people. Example: “typical anti argument: the second amendment was written for the police and military.” The doctor in question is acting on behalf of a government program therefore while the doctor certainly has 1st amendment rights he does not have a right to question you on behalf of the government.

  16. Ok for what its worth. But since Florida has no problem passing along the full list of CCW permits to other states (and losing all control over it) I wouldn’t get so worked up about some doctor.

  17. I’m going to call the Firearms Owners Privacy act a good thing. The entire reason we’re having this debate is because the anti’s are trying to use doctors to frame gun rights as a public health menace.

  18. I do not care who asks, unless there is a badge in their hand and a good reason for asking (I said “and,” not “or,” there for a reason) I will be answering “no” and keeping that info to myself. I don’t tell anyone who doesn’t already know that I am armed. Ever.

  19. I can see, off-hand, only a couple of legitimate medical reasons for such a question:
    – – – possibility of lead poisoning;
    – – – household member who is unstable
    Should either such topic appear possibly relevant, a doctor might legitimately ask an open-ended question. For example. “Is there any reason you might have to suspect a lead exposure in the environment? For example, very old paint chipping; lead dust from finishing lead fishing lures; industry in the area; dust from a firing range?” If there is any hit, then do a lead test on the patient. If that turns up positive then pursue the source, which might be paint chips or firing range. If there is a household member who is unstable (or immature) then it may be worthwhile to council keeping toxic substances under child-locks or more rigorously-secured if the unstable person is an adult. Discussion of storage of knives and blunt objects. Here, the object of concern is the unstable person and, secondarily, his access to anything that might exacerbate the danger.
    – – – The Anti’s use every avenue they can think of to demonize gun ownership. Regulations concerning disclosure of gun ownership is just one among many. We ought not let-down our guard on any such proposal. If the Anti’s win some regulations they pursue they should be made to pay dearly for every victory by paying to offset our opposition in every case.
    – – – We need not be shy about proposing arguments against the Anti’s proposals. It’s not the gun, it’s any exposure to a potentially toxic heavy metal. It’s not the gun, it’s the unstable person in the household and his access to any object that could be used to injure others.

  20. Wait until you have to deal with a doctor who has an AMA liberal agenda, I had to put up with it for one visit and that was bad enough.

  21. It appears to me that violating this act is grounds for license suspension, not criminal punishment (though I could be wrong).

    The 1st Amendment protects your right to free speech, not to be licensed as a doctor. Similarly cop or government official can be fired for what amounts to political speech if it falls into certain categories.

  22. Government has no business being involved in our business, health care or anything else. The only person who can protect you from intrusive questioning and record keeping is you.

  23. Sorta like my doctor asking if I smoke cigars. I told him never to ask the F*ing question again or I would make him swallow his nuts. He laughed and ticked no

    As for guns, we discuss that only b/c he is a USAF reserve flight surgeon and he collects guns also. But it ain’t written down anywhere

  24. Tax records should be private too – the recent IRS debacle shows that this isn’t true. Now we have the government expanding its role in healthcare with the ACA. This looks like an attempt to create a registry by any other name

  25. After some years in hospital administration I came to realize that most docs were idiot-savants and you had to take the savant part on faith. My armory or lack thereof has nothing to do with my health regardless of the current bull being peddled. If you can’t see this for what it is, just another prong on the drive to disarm the public, you belong in the same category as the docs – the idiot part, that is. That said, anyone has the right to ask you any question, even if the proper response is “you are no longer my doc – send in the NP and get out of my face.”

  26. Who is the ass clown talk show host in the vid? Towards the end of it he talks about how the NRA doesn’t want gun education in the schools? Eddie Eagle anyone?

    • If the great progressive overlord says so, it must be true!
      I am also confused. Maybe he is mistaking schools teaching fear of guns with gun safety, because the former is a serious problem that the NRA would oppose, and the latter is something I haven’t heard anyone have a good excuse not to do.

  27. I’m a physician. I want the government to stay out of my relationship with my patients; a relationship that should be as secure as one with your priest. I don’t generally ask about guns but in my practice it does come up (lead poisoning, respiratory tract irritants, and people who are overtly homicidal/suicidal). Furthermore, chatting about guns is a nice way to bond.

  28. Of course it’s a good thing. It’s none of their damn business! A doctor can ask me, but he cannot compel me to answer. My reply would be a polite rejection. “That’s none of your business doc. Got a medical related question for me?”

  29. It is wrong/immoral to pass a law preventing a doctor from asking something. It is not wrong to tell them to mind their own business when they do ask.

    • Then is it okay for a doctor to ask an under age woman if she’s had sex yet, and if so how she liked it? Doctors in a doctor/patient relationship do not enjoy pure free speech as they are subject to a professional code of conduct. This includes not lying or bullying people about gun ownership, behaviors that were the impetus for this law.

    • How on earth is it ‘immoral’???

      Sometimes people throw words out that make me think they are just regurgitating nouns and adjectives without any real idea what they mean when put together.

  30. Nobody needs to know what firearms I own, or if I own any at all. Let’s see, there are approximately 36,000 chainsaw related injuries a year compared to 32,000 firearms related incidents, and 2.3 million vehicle related incidents. Do doctors really need to be asking about firearms, chainsaws, or even vehicle information? How about they worry about actual medical issues…

  31. Was this entire thing not sparked or kicked into high gear by a doctor refusing service on the basis of gun ownership or willingness to admit ownership.

    • I think it as a lot more than just one, and that was the real issue–making treatment with that physician contingent upon buying into his political ideology. I went to a dentist once who, unlike every other dentist with a two page form, had a seven page questionnaire that asked about such things as receiving treatment for mental illness, and a full medical health questionnaire, most of which was not relevant to my teeth. I answered what I thought was relevant, declined to answer the rest. I discussed it with the dentist and it got heated because of his attitude that anything he wanted to ask was his business, and if I didn’t want to answer, that was grounds for refusing to see me. I thought he was being a pompous jerk. We did not part amicably.

  32. I talk to my patients about guns all the time.

    I think a better strategy would have been to push for a law that prevents medical professionals from treating gun owners differently because of their gun ownership. Think about the long term legal implications of that.

  33. I think Florida’s FOPA is great. I wish Texas had a law like that. It would have kept our family physician from asking my wife and kids about our guns during their last appointment. Pissed me off to no end when I found out. Anyone know if there is a way to get the info removed from our medical records?

    • It is illegal for a physician to remove any entry from a medical record, even if it is erroneous. The remedy for an erroneous entry is a new entry referring to and correcting the mistake. The policy is to prevent doctors/nurses/etc. from altering their records to cover up medical negligence.

      • So basically, on the next visit, the doctor asks about guns and we say no guns anymore, the doc puts a note in our records saying that the guns are gone.? Well that sucks, as something about guns is still in our files.

        My wife wondered why I was so angry about the question. I told her about my concerns with the .gov getting a hold of our medical records as part of the ACA. She thought I was being a little paranoid about the lengths a tyrannical government might go. That is until I reminded her about how her grandparents got to spend World War 2 in an interment camp in Arizona all for the crime of being Japanese Americans in California after Pearl Harbor. She gets it now.

  34. The law came about because of patient complaints that doctors were abusing their position, bullying, openly lying, telling patients they were required by law to answer questions about firearms in the home. Allowing doctors to do so creates way too much potential for victimization as many patients are loath to stand up to a medical professional. Given the AMA’s fervent anti-gun stance, I say the law is a good thing.

    Pure freedom of speech does not apply in the doctor’s office as they are subject to a code of professional conduct. I can tell a hot girl on the street she has a “sweet booty” and take my chances of not getting slapped. Who knows, I might even make a new friend.

    If a doctor said that to a female patient he could lose his license. So no, there is no pure free speech in the doctor’s office and that applies to my guns.

  35. A physician who knows that patients have children should be free to offer advice, e.g., a pamphlet, concerning safe handling and storage practices without ever asking whether that patient owns guns. Just like the pamphlets for child-proofing a house (plugs, drawers, cabinets, etc.) from active crawlers and toddlers. But there is every reason to resist putting that information into a medical record or conditioning treatment on compliance with a doctor’s demands for information.

  36. Except that this isn’t a First Amendment issue. At all. Doctors have absolutely no business prying into aspects of their patient’s private lives that have exactly of all jack shit to do with their care. In so doing, it’s the doctors that are actually invading their patient’s privacy, if anything.

    Remember folks: your rights end where another’s rights begin.

  37. Do I have any guns? There is NOT ONE SINGLE GUN in my house! I swear it!
    My dentist always has the last year’s worth of American Rifleman magazine in his waiting room, along with the usual ones. We both like Kimbers & we talk guns a lot. Come to think of it, I probably paid for his latest Kimber…

  38. So your own doctor doesn’t have any right to talk to you, but if you’re a woman going into an abortion clinic, random strangers have the “right” to get into your face and question your medical decisions?

    Is that about it?

  39. 22,347 gun control laws, 85% of which dont apply as a punishable offence against the 10 categories of the bad guys as defined in sec 922 of the 1968 Gun Control Act, and these whiners are upset we get one back from them, really?

    Let us know when you get to 18,995 laws that actually infringe upon the 1A then get back to us!

  40. I’m with Robert on this one. It was an unnecessary law that (in my opinion) overstepped the bounds of good governance. Don’t tell me what my doctor and I can and can’t talk about. I don’t like having to lie to my dentist about flossing twice a day, but I also don’t think that we need to pass a law to keep him from asking about it.

    • Aw, dont you know, no right is absolute…..now lets see, please point out in this law where the infrignement comes from sunshine!

      http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Bills/billsdetail.aspx?BillId=44993

      http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Documents/loaddoc.aspx?FileName=_h0155er.docx&DocumentType=Bill&BillNumber=0155&Session=2011

      Section 1. Section 790.338, Florida Statutes, is created to read:

      790.338 Medical privacy concerning firearms; prohibitions; penalties, exceptions.— ENROLLED CS/CS/HB 155 2011 Legislature

      CODING: Words stricken are deletions; words underlined are additions. hb0155-03-er Page 3 of 7 F L O R I D A H O U S E O F R E P R E S E N T A T I V E S

      (1) A health care practitioner licensed under chapter 456 or a health care facility licensed under chapter 395 may not intentionally enter any disclosed information concerning firearm ownership into the patient’s medical record if the practitioner knows that such information is not relevant to the patient’s medical care or safety, or the safety of others.

      (2) A health care practitioner licensed under chapter 456 or a health care facility licensed under chapter 395 shall respect a patient’s right to privacy and should refrain from making a written inquiry or asking questions concerning the ownership of a firearm or ammunition by the patient or by a family member of the patient, or the presence of a firearm in a private home or other domicile of the patient or a family member of the patient. Notwithstanding this provision, a health care practitioner or health care facility that in good faith believes that this information is relevant to the patient’s medical care or safety, or the safety of others, may make such a verbal or written inquiry.

      (3) Any emergency medical technician or paramedic acting under the supervision of an emergency medical services medical director under chapter 401 may make an inquiry concerning the possession or presence of a firearm if he or she, in good faith, believes that information regarding the possession of a firearm by the patient or the presence of a firearm in the home or domicile of a patient or a patient’s family member is necessary to treat a patient during the course and scope of a medical emergency or that the presence or possession of a firearm would pose an imminent danger or threat to the patient or others.

    • “I don’t like having to lie to my dentist about flossing twice a day, but I also don’t think that we need to pass a law to keep him from asking about it.”

      Not flossing increases your risk of health harm. Having a gun –if you are not a criminal — makes your home statistical SAFER than not having a gun. The real question ought to be: “does anyone in the home have an arrest record.”

      So don’t equate factors which harm health (not flossing) with factors that increase health (a non criminal person having a gun).

      And the Florida law did not come out of thin air, it came as a response to a sharp increase inthe question being asked because insurance companies are putting it into the health questionnaires doctors use.

      It is going to be one of the things they CAN raise rates for. IN DC smoking and grossly obesity are a pre existing condition, and if you smoke three packs a day, or for that matter if you morbidly obese, your health insurance company cannot charge you one cent more than they can charge a kale eating runner.

      But if they can get away with charging gun owners more, even if their is no increased risk they will. If you think NY, Cali, Maryland won’t try allow or even force helath insurance companies to charge more for gun owners you would be wrong.

  41. Once physicians start down this path of home safety counseling, they are completely on their own. A review of their medical malpractice insurance will reveal that if they engage in an activity for which they are not certified, the carrier will not cover them if (or when) they get sued.

    Consider a physician asking the following questions of his or her malpractice insurance carrier:

    • One of my patients is suing me for NOT warning them that furniture polish was poisonous and their child drank it and died. I only warned them about firearms, drugs and alcohol. Am I covered for counseling patients about firearms safety while not mentioning and giving preventative advice about all the other dangers in the home, and doing so without formal training or certification in any aspect of home safety risk management? You know their answer.

    • How much training and certification do I need to become a Home Safety Expert Doctor? They will tell you that you are either a pediatrician or you are the National Safety Council. But, you don’t have certification to do the National Safety Council’s job for them.

    Homeowners and parents are civilly or criminally responsible for the safety or lack thereof in their homes.

    My advice to physicians is to not borrow trouble by presuming to be able to dispense safety advice outside your area of expertise: the practice of medicine.

    Your insurance carrier will love you if you simply treat injuries and illnesses, dispense advice on how to care for sick or injured persons, manage sanitation problems and try to prevent disease, but stay out of the Risk Management business unless you are trained and certified to do it. 


  42. The only time I mention firearms in my practice is if a patient describes things like sleep-walking, or performing other activity in sleep. Yes, it does happen. No, they have no idea they’re doing it. People open doors, go down stairs, open windows, turn on the oven, etc.

    I had a police officer wake up sitting on the edge of the bed with her Glock 23 in her lap.

    For patients like this, I don’t ask “do you have guns” but I DO say “if there is anything in the bedroom environment like breakables, glassware, firearms, knives, etc., that could hurt you or someone else if you do these things in your sleep, make sure it’s removed or secured.” I rarely discuss firearms, and I only record a firearms-related issue if it is sufficiently serious to warrant a note in the medical record (like waking up with a gun in your hand).

    In medicine, if you didn’t write it down, it didn’t happen. You want to provide the best care for patients, respecting privacy, but you also have a CYA component to consider. You don’t want to have a lawyer saying you ignored a potentially deadly issue because you didn’t write it down. A blanket “do you have guns” question? Hell no. But when it’s medically pertinent, hell yes – I have an ethical and medico-legal obligation to do so.

    • “I had a police officer wake up sitting on the edge of the bed with her Glock 23 in her lap”

      And considering “Ambien Zombies” are now well-documented… And lots of cops work rotating shifts.

  43. The infantilization of American adults continues.

    If you can’t muster the mental fortitude to politely decline to answer a question that makes you uncomfortable and/or to find another doctor, that is your problem.

    Constitutionally, “shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech” appears about as clear to me as “shall not be infringed.”

    • If the doctor doesnt have the moral character to act like a civil sane adult and pull the shenanigans the particular pediatrician did to get this whole thing started, then telling them “NO” doesnt mean didley squat unless they get penalized and punished for doing so in a sufficient fashion they stop, cause the immoral blood thirsty heathen anti gunterds wont stop, EVER!

      Until you elmeruss fuddus types understand that, the anti gunterds will continue nibbling away, one bite at a time, capcihe sunshine?

  44. Last year, my former doctor asked me if any guns were in my home…..My reply was simple…
    Does your wife swallow????? His look of shock and disbelief was priceless, he declared, “how dare you”. I laughed and said ….how does it feel to have a question posed that is irrelevant to the task at hand? I informed the doc his services would no longer be needed and left. My new doctor is a bible thumping gun toting SOB!!!!!!!

  45. Just say “no.” You and your family. “No.” Any other answer is a “yes.” But I agree with putting laws on a private citizens asking questions. Now, government officials (and by proximity health insurance reps) should be barred from asking questions that could be used against them. Starts to get into a gray area but you’ve gotta draw a line somewhere.

  46. The problem is this: anyone challenging the question will be tagged as a gun owner, given that a non-gun owner is likely to answer “Of course, not.” A gun owner would only say: “Yes.” or “None of your business.” The question should not be asked at the behest of the government. It’s the same as asking: “Have you ever petitioned the government for the redress of grievances?”

  47. Ok so I have a stupid question. Does this make it illegal for doctors offices to ask the question and/or record data about the firearm question?

    I just recently finished up a well visit for my newborn and a annual visit for my 3 year within the past week and did notice on the childproof-ipad-questionnaire that it specifically asked about firearm ownership. Like always, I ignored the question and just moved on to the next one.

    After seeing this article, I asked my wife what she had done with those answers in the past and she apparently has always been truthful. So I’m assuming that there is a record of a ‘yes’ firearm response somewhere in my kids health record.

    Now I’m not terribly worried or paranoid that the government knows that I have firearms. I have a valid FL CCL and have been subjected to more NICS checks than I can remember. They know I’m armed and if they don’t then they are not paying attention.

    What I am more interested in is the legality of my kids’ pediatrician keeping records of ‘guns in the house’ on their health record here in Florida. Do I ask them to destroy those records without somehow coming across as a ‘paranoid gun nut’. I don’t particularly want to have to get lawyers involved. Do I report the infraction and to who?

  48. Recenly I went to the Dr’s office for a simple procedure. they took my blood pressure first thing as they usually do. It was surprisingly high. The nurse said no problem, we’ll wait a moment or two and take it again.

    The Dr came in a few moments later and, before taking care of the problem I was actually there for, took my BP again. It was even higher.

    We finished with what I was there for initially but the Dr said I couldn’t leave until my BP was down to a reasonable rate. She put the BP Cuff on and said “now think of a place where you’re calm and happy.”

    Breathing, sight picture, trigger roll and position. I was back on the range.

    The Dr smiled and said my BP was normal, I could go.

    See? Guns really ARE life savers.

  49. I don’t see that this has much to do with free speech. The law doesn’t say that a doctor cannot give their opinion on the issue in general, it is talking about in talking with their patients. The First Amendment says that the government shall not make any laws based on a religion nor prohibit anyone from engaging in free speech. If a doctor wants to go and engage in free speech against guns, they have every right to do that. But I do not want them asking me about whether I own guns, and especially now with Obamacare limiting the choices regarding what doctors I can see.

  50. The problem being that people can’t give any answer other than “no, I don’t own guns” to one of these doctors without them flagging them as a gun owner.

  51. With the push to have all things digitized and put into a database at every doctor visit I have to agree this law is needed. My doctor may have a better take on my health issues than the government but if he lets something slide and writes it in my file it is flagged. He get a notice or a call or whatever that he is not walking lock step with the gubmint standards. Ergo now insert your hobbies, interests, firearms and now you have a database that is monitored by the government, insurance agencies, and any doctor you see in the USA. Do you want them meddling that much?

  52. To argue a doctor’s first-amendment right to ask a patient about something completely irrelevant to the contractual, privileged doctor-patient relationship is pure sophistry. Is there really anything legitimate to debate?

  53. This law is a good thing. If my grocer asks me personal questions, I can find another. But finding the right doctor is more difficult. Also, the doctor-patient relationship is a very personal one. Having doctors ask inappropriate questions may lead patients to stay away, or to avoid giving answers to pertinent questions.

    Bad doctorin’ kills way more people than firearms … doctors should stick to what they are trained to do. Otherwise, MYOFB.

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