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By Dr. Arthur Przebinda

I’m concerned that TTAG’s readership may be being misled and distracted by the recent posts about “studies” of the “conversations” about guns that doctors are or are not having with their patients. Let there be absolutely no doubt that this recent increase in chatter about doctors being able or obligated to talk to their patients about guns is intended to sway opinions and perceptions regarding legislation similar to Florida’s Firearm Owners Privacy Act.

This is the law that led to the Wollschlaeger case and inspired other states to pursue legislation dealing with the matter. The Kaiser Health News article included in the September 14th Daily Digest (and for which our Director, Timothy Wheeler, MD was interviewed) makes reference to these cases.

The issue is NOT about individual doctors’ individual rights. It’s not about any of the noble principles we hold dear and I was dismayed to see some of TTAG’s Armed Intelligentsia getting mired in debating these irrelevant (to the case) points. The issue at play and the true agenda here is to achieve political gains and undermine the RKBA.

The meat of the matter is the attempt by professional medical specialty organizations to insinuate their anti-gun political agendas into the doctor/patient encounter.

Public discussion of the matter is couched in terms of individual rights because that’s more palatable to the general public which may not be too friendly to organizations, corporations or other such entities influencing their lives. Unfortunately, luminaries like Eugene Volokh are missing the forest for the trees, focusing only on the individual rights of the physician. They are not recognizing the fact that those individual liberties are being exploited by politically-minded bodies with an anti-rights agenda.

As I pointed out in the comments on September 14th, the American Academy of Family Physicians has an official policy stating: “The Academy opposes private ownership of weapons designed primarily to fire multiple (greater than 10) rounds quickly.”

This is not an isolated example. Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership has been exposing, chronicling, and combating this kind of antigun animus in organized medicine for over two decades. A perusal of our site (and especially our three-part series, The History of Public Health Gun Control) will demonstrate ample proof of organized medicine’s anti-gun agenda and anti-gun efforts.

If physicians do not know anything about guns or “gun safety”, where will they turn for their information? To their professional specialty organizations—the very organizations that, for decades now, have been trying to convince the general public and their patients that guns are bad and dangerous to have around.

The Wollschlaeger caseand the attempts to convince the general public (and jurists) that it’s perfectly innocent and well-intentioned for doctors to have unrestricted conversations about firearms with their patientsis about specialty organizations using the authority of physicians in the healthcare setting to turn public sentiment against gun ownership.

Talk about a “camel’s nose in the tent” scenario.

Without respect for patients’ fundamental and constitutionally protected rights, antigun organizations like AAP and AAFP can first encourage their member clinicians to “talk to their patients” about guns, “bringing a message of safety”. But what if the member clinicians know boo about guns or “gun safety”? No worries! Here is the script and talking points, that we coincidentally have ready to go, showing just how rotten guns are and how dangerous your home is when you own one.

To summarize, the goals of the Wollschlaeger case for the institutional academic establishment, are:

Step one: Get a green light for doctors to talk about guns with patients.

Step two: Feed doctors their talking points (which happen to be ready-manufactured by antigun advocacy researchers to advance an anti-gun agenda). Like, for instance, the recent publication from Garen Wintemute which suggests that doctors say that a “large body of evidence” (part of which was, coincidentally, produced by Wintemute himself) demonstrates just how much more unsafe a home is when there is a gun inside.

Step three: Reduce firearms ownership in the USA.

All this can be accomplished by exploiting the authority of the physician in the clinical setting. This is why DRGO supports upholding the Wollschlaeger ruling and has urged the court to apply the Gentile balancing test to correctly subordinate the physician’s professional First Amendment rights to the patient’s personal Second Amendment rights.

Note that I said “the physician’s professional First Amendment rights”. We must make a distinction between casual speech (“Hey, how about those Dodgers?” or “Ready for duck season?”) and professional speech (“It is absolutely dangerous for you to keep a gun in the house and I have publications supporting that notion as well as our organization’s recommendations that you get rid of your guns or at least keep them disassembled and locked up”.)

It is well established in the laws of every state that certain types of physicians’ speech are strictly prohibited. The clearest example is a physician propositioning sex to patients. This kind of speech violates the doctor-patient trust and is subject to severe sanctions. Lobbying patients politically — like urging them to give up their constitutionally-protected fundamental rights — falls into that category.

Dr. Przebinda is the social media director for Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership. 

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  1. Step one and step two make sense well enough. How exactly do you suggest the AAP and AAFP would go about accomplishing step three? I’m asking for concrete, specific examples of how this would be accomplished, rather than a couched response along the lines of “It is absolutely dangerous for you to keep a gun in the house and I have publications supporting that notion as well as our organization’s recommendations that you get rid of your guns or at least keep them disassembled and locked up.” Because to me that’s nothing more than a strong recommendation.
    Does the case open the door for doctors being able to involuntarily commit patients to psychiatric care due to gun ownership? Specifics, specifics, specifics.

    • It’s propaganda, not force. If everyone’s physician warned about the likely death of your children if you keep a gun in your house, and then claimed that you are statistically safer without a gun, I guarantee you that net gun ownership will go down. It’s about brainwashing the uninformed masses.

      • I unconsciously absorbed that exact belief growing up in the 70s, 80s, and early 90s, when the anti-gun zeitgeist was at its height. It was just one of those “everyone knows” kind of things.

        First, I didn’t even consider the remote possibility of buying an “assault weapon” when I went out to buy my first rifle (a Marlin Model 60) or my second (a Marlin 336). No regrets on either of those, they’re great guns. But basically, I was a Fudd by default.

        Then, a few months later when I brought home my first pistol, the paranoia crept in. Was I actually endangering my family simply by having this thing? These were the death machines that made me seven times more likely to die in my own home. Or…not. I did my own research, verified the sources and numbers, and found out that the study that generated that shibboleth was a steaming pile of crap. As is almost every anti-gun talking point or piece of “evidence” the progressive left has ever trotted out.

        Of course an anti-gun professional association is trying to leverage its position of authority in the doctor/patient relationship for political purposes. Their anti-rights belief system is based on false premises, so lies and abuse of authority are the only tools they have.

        As for the missing detail in Step 3, just give them time and room to work; they’ll fill in the gaps in due time.

        • Ban assault levers! Ronny DeFeo used a Marlin 336 to kill his whole family, and bandits used them throughout the Wild West. The only acceptable “cowboy gun” is a Springfield Trapdoor, Remington Rolling Block, or Winchester 1885! Also, wasn’t there an issue with Marlin 60s in Cali and New York and maybe some other places because their (fixed) magazine could hold more than 10 rounds?

        • I remember hearing the factoid that “your e times more likely to be shot with your own gun than shoot an intruder” back in 3d or 4th grade from another kid. It was ingrained and I didn’t question it until my 20s.

      • Step 4 – the U.S. Version of the Russian and French Revolution’s with a whole lotta civil war thrown in. If these bastards kill their own kids they won’t have to watch others do it. They’ll mostly be spared their (Russian) eat their own dead to survive, but they’ll likely be hunted. The only thing a Dr.s license will be good for is to keep a current mailing address for the person owing on the student loan. You F with “America”, America buries your ass, and your progeny grow up apologizing for their ancestors (look it up (D)bags).

        Our great great great grandkids’ll be warned about these assholes reaching critical mass again.

  2. So without spending the rest of my afternoon and evening reading every single link in the article,
    1) Under your plan, would a physician be prohibited from initiating a conversation on the subject of guns at all?
    2) Would a physician be prohibited from initiating a conversation on the subject of gun safety, like referring parents to an Eddie-the-Eagle-type program?

    (simple yes/no will suffice)

    • 2) Is the physician *charging me* like $250/hr for his time while spewing such absolute bullshit? Then absolutely *YES*, it should be prohibited, in fact he should have to refund a few hundred dollars if he even MENTIONS subjects in which he has no demonstrated expertise.

    • Kevin:

      1) No. We said this before in the previous thread.
      2) No. We said this before in the previous thread.

      Timothy Wheeler, MD

      Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership
      A Project of the Second Amendment Foundation

  3. What a hilarious outcome. That’s the loudest I’ve heard “you people don’t know what the hell you’re talking about” said without using those words. It just kills me that non-gun owners would take a doctor’s word on guns above those of actual gun owners (who overwhelmingly oppose safe storage/etc BS laws), and are terrified of the idea that we might teach gun safety to kids in schools as a standard thing.

  4. “The meat of the matter is the attempt by professional medical specialty organizations to insinuate their anti-gun political agendas into the doctor/patient encounter.”

    No duh, doc. A phone booth, pair of tights, and a cape, and you could have delivered this groundbreaking news in the even more authoritative visage of Captain Obvious.

  5. So I guess this is an area of gun politics that I’ve somehow managed to miss.

    I don’t get it. Why would a doctor initiate a conversation about firearms in the home? Would they do the same thing about chainsaws?

    Now with a pediatrician and new parents I might be able to understand it as a passing comment.

    “Hey, your kid is getting to the age where they can move around and investigate the world so you might want to think about some basic safety stuff, you know, making sure they can’t get into household cleaners, a drawer full of knives etc. You’ll want to apply this “toddler proofing” idea to other things as well in case you have power tools or guns you might want to think about that. Just generally make sure the dangerous or potentially dangerous items are out of reach”

    That’s as far as I can see this going and in this case it’s a tangential topic to the main topic of child safety with new parents who might not understand what their ankle biter can and can’t get into. As far as a doctor saying “You shouldn’t have firearms in your home!” I can’t see how that conversation even starts and if it did start with me I’d probably be too shocked to say anything other than “Uh huh” and then ignore the “advice”.

    As it is, I don’t have to worry. Our family physician is someone I see regularly at the range!

    • During a pediatrician visit a few years ago, I had the total non sequitur experience that you find hard to believe. Right in the middle of nothing in particular, the doc asked if we had guns in the home and how they were stored. I gave him quite an earful about how our guns were stored in gun safes with ammo separate, except the self-defense/home-defense guns, and how my 12-year-old son was already a better with a shotgun than his old man is, etc. etc.

      The pediatrician’s sudden silence and facial expression were priceless. But no mistake about it: he was 100% cold-blooded about a no-segue blindside question about gun ownership, and clearly angling toward a gunz R badd conclusion.

      • That’s the kind of thing that would have me saying something like “Doc, you really should see another doctor. It’s improper for you to self diagnose but it seems rather obvious to me that you’re presenting with symptoms of tourettes!”

        • It wouldn’t really matter because a doctor that asked me such a question in such a manner wouldn’t be my doctor any longer.

      • A simple reply is “what’s it to you?” Followed by “none of your business” if he asks again. You basically gave more info than required .

  6. “You wanna talk about guns, Doc? Sure. But first, I’d like to talk about so-called medical mistakes. Y’know, doctors like you and hospitals kill or grievously injure 400,000 Americans every year. So I’m thinking that you ought to clean up your own contaminated house before you try to clean up mine. M’kay?

    “Oh, and let’s talk about surgery. I don’t think you’re doing it right. And since I know as much about surgery as you know about guns, we’ll talk about surgery on your time, because I’m not paying for it.”

  7. Great points by the good Doctor here. There is no doubt that this is happening. It’s also very encouraging that there is “Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership” around.

    • Thanks RC. Dr. Przebinda wrote this post because too many people think this whole issue is about freedom of speech for the doctor. It’s not. It’s about stopping a long-term campaign within the medical establishment to prejudice people against gun ownership by exploiting the trust that patients necessarily place in their physicians.

      At DRGO we have been working for over 20 years to stop that anti-freedom, anti-American campaign. See our website for more info.

      Dr. Wheeler

  8. I’m 6’5″ 285 pounds. If a doctor wants to ask me about my armaments, I’m afraid, in the tight confines of a doctors office, would suddenly feel woozy and fall directly or perhaps inadvertently head butt med man and then while getting upright again, step on this jewels, wherever they may be. I’m positive he would not ask me that question again.

  9. I ask my patients about guns (my waiting room magazines include American Rifleman). If they admit they own them I ask them why they didn’t bring them in for the office visit. A married couple followed my advice and both returned packing their own guns for their follow up appointemt. The last one was a lady police officer (last week) who admitted she left her gun in the car. I call to her attention that the next time I see her I would appreciate if she would carry it into the examining room. An Arab veteran of the Egyptian army offered to bring his AR-15 to my office. I respectfully declined the very gracious offer (for the sake of my waiting room patients). Hey, if the SHTF in my waiting room I’m going to need all the help I can get.

  10. In the People’s Republic of Massachusetts. According to GOAL.ORG, It is technically illegal under Massachusetts anti-freedom/gun control laws for someone other than a firearms safety /training officer, certified by the colonel of the Massachusetts State Police. To give firearms safety instructions. And of course, gave other answers if doctors in Massachusetts ask. 1). Lie…Leave, and find another doctor….2.) Tell them it’s none of their business, and explain the law. 3.) Tell them whatever under your own discretion. 4.) Go find another doctor.

  11. The reason for the Massachusetts docs questions was that doctors could act as “Secret Police “, and this data is use for reporting purposes to “public safety “. Such as to the Massachusetts State Police *( Gestapo)* , or to your Local Police departments, aka. Your local licensing authority–who can issue orders of “weapon surrender” and revoke your LTC/FID. Basically, take away your constitutional rights without due process. As it is, Massachusetts local/state police have absolute control over a Massachusetts residents 2nd amendment rights *(privileges )*

  12. If Dr’s want to have a political conversation, maybe we should have a conversation about how voting for Democrats is bad for your health.

  13. Just one of many reasons I avoid doctors like the plague. Only been to a doctor’s ONCE in my adult life (well over 60) and that was because my wife drug me there for a physical. According to ‘Comsumer’s Reports’ magazine, over 440,000 Americans die each year (a hard figure to realize, but true) from known medical errors and bad procedures. There are some studies that put the number at around one million each year. But since they do ‘greater good’ it is allowed to fester. I have personally known a few dozen people that were killed by medical malpractice or severely damaged leading to a lose of quality of life. I hope I never need the ‘services’ of these scum. I have had some enormous injuries that were treated at home just as effectively (maybe better) at home.

  14. The article every one is quoting did not state that doctors kill 400,000 people every year
    It said that medical errors killed 400,000 every year
    That included nurses, technicians, nurse anesthetists, podiatrists and pharmacists.
    There are plenty of providers of medical care who are not doctors

    • The numbers I’ve seen in 2 separate studies are in the 225,000-250,000 range, though understanding that these figures are only the reported and confirmed cases, the number is undoubtedly much higher. This number includes properly used pharmaceuticals, standard of care medical procedures gone bad, along with the mistakes.

  15. Aside from the potential long term problem of physicians “programming” people to eschew firearms, I am much more concerned about potential short term problems.

    First and foremost, if your physician is a rabid gun-grabber, they could paint you as mentally unstable and instigate involuntary commitment and confiscation proceedings. And how would they support such claims? They could lie and say that you shared suicidal or even homicidal thoughts with them at any of your appointments, among other possibilities. They could even prescribe medications for conditions that are ostensibly related to mental instability like sleep medications — reinforcing the idea that you are indeed mentally unstable. (Your mental instability was interfering with your ability to sleep.) Who knows what else they might dream up.

    Second, I am also concerned about physicians secretly acquiring information that the state can use against you. Whether it be verification of firearm ownership or claims that you refuse to keep your firearms in a safe (whether or not that is actually true) to the detriment/danger of your children.

    No thank you. About the only thing harder to refute in court than a physician’s notes in your official patient record is a pastor’s sworn statement or a witnessed and notarized legal document filed at a government agency whose charter is to store such documents.

  16. And Obamacare entwines itself around us like a wrestler with the IRS as its muscle. Any doctor who starts popping off with questions that have no bearing with the pain in your noggin should be told to screw off and find yourself another doctor. Or, turn the tables and ask the doc how many malpractice cases theyve had, and the dispositions. That should shut them up.

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