Monday, June 13th, 2011
Florida’s governor, Rick Scott, signed a law this month making the state the first to prohibit doctors–including pediatricians–from asking patients or patients’ parents whether they own a gun. Doctors who do ask such questions are subject to discipline by the state’s medical board. Several other states are considering similar proposals, according to an article published in The Boston Globe.
Pediatricians often counsel patients on safety issues, chiefly around swimming pools, household chemicals, bicycle safety…and guns. The Globe cited statistics that support this practice:
The idea that firearms are out of bounds for doctors, who are committed to preventing illness and injury, is preposterous, opponents said. Between 2003 and 2007, the most recent years for which data are available, 152,519 people were killed by firearms, including more than 15,000 children and teenagers, according to a US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention database that collects information from death certificates.
Gun rights groups, including the National Rifle Association, supported the bill on the grounds that it protects a family’s right to privacy. “You have a right to seek medical care without being interrogated about the private property that you own,” Marion Hammer, executive director of Unified Sportsmen of Florida and a former National Rifle Association president, told the Florida Times-Union newspaper in January.
What do you think about this new Florida law, and about the rights of doctors to advise patients on gun safety?
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