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Current Events & Hot Topics Current Events & Hot Topics

Doctors' Questions About Guns Spark A Constitutional Fight

Posted by on Jul. 19, 2013 at 8:41 PM
  • 42 Replies

Doctors' Questions About Guns Spark A Constitutional Fight

When does a gun become a personal health issue?

When does a gun become a personal health issue?

iStockphoto.com

To pediatricians, guns are a health issue.

Firearms remain a for young people. The doctors say the evidence shows that homes are safer for kids, and adults for that matter, when guns aren't around.

Should doctors ask patient about guns at home?

Pediatricians say doctors should ask their patients — or their parents, in the case of very young children — if there is a gun in the house.

That seemingly simple question has proved controversial, though pediatricians say it shouldn't be. "We ask patients about all kinds of things," , president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, tells Shots. Doctors ask about the setting on the water heater (turn it down to prevent burns) and whether family cyclists wear bike helmets, he says.

When it comes to guns, McInerny says, "We know it's important to ask." Pediatricians aren't looking to take people's guns away, he says, and the information will stay confidential. "We're not going to tell anyone," he says.

Instead, the question could lead to a teachable moment. "If you have a gun, at least keep it safe," he says. He says guns should be stored unloaded and locked up. Ammunition should be stored separately and locked up, too.

Pediatricians aren't the only ones asking. A Colorado doctor, for instance, earlier this year about how an elderly patient's suicide using a gun made him more likely to ask patients about firearms. For years, the leading professional group for internists that its doctors talk about guns and safety with patients.

Still, guns are unique. The right to bear them is constitutionally protected, and some people consider their ownership to be a private matter that should be off-limits, even in a doctor's office.

Should doctors be barred from asking patients about guns?

In Florida, a law to restrict doctors from asking about guns . Doctors asserted their constitutionally protected right to free speech and challenged the law in court. A has blocked it so far, but the state of Florida has appealed. Arguments in the case in Miami.

We wondered how Americans view the issue and what their experience has been. So we asked in a nationwide telephone poll conducted with our partner Truven Health Analytics.

What did we find out? Well, about a third of respondents said there is at least one gun at home. Not many had been asked about guns by their doctors, though — only 7 percent. Overall, a third of respondents believe that providers of health care should ask patients about the presence of guns at home.

Now, what about banning a doctor's question to a patient about that kind of conversation? That question turned out to be divisive. About 44 percent of people either support or strongly support a ban. On the other hand, 37 percent oppose or strongly oppose blocking a doctor from asking about guns.

"It's stunning to me that people would feel that strongly that physicians should be prohibited from asking about a gun — and across all ages," says , chief medical officer at Truven. "Gun violence is a safety issue as much as seat belts are a safety issue." For that reason, he says, doctors have a responsibility to know what's going on in the homes of patients.

We asked , head of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, for his take on the results. He notes that very few people in the poll had direct experience with this sort of conversation with a doctor.

"Asking people hypothetical questions, you sort of have to take the responses with a grain of salt," he says. "If a doctor actually speaks to them and explains why it's relevant to their health and safety — and did so in a respectful, thoughtful way — I suspect a number of people who said no would be perfectly fine with it."

People are free to disregard the advice of doctors, and often do. But Webster says parents may store guns more safely, even if they aren't willing to remove firearms from the home when counseled about the risks to kids, after talking with a doctor.

The poll, conducted during the first half of April, gathered responses from 3,009 people across the country. The margin of error was plus or minus 1.8 percentage points. You can find the questions and full results . Past polls can be found .

Not Without Panties

by on Jul. 19, 2013 at 8:41 PM
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Replies (1-10):
NWP
by guerrilla girl on Jul. 19, 2013 at 8:42 PM

Why would you care if the doctor asked?


Healthystart30
by Silver Member on Jul. 19, 2013 at 8:47 PM
Just shows where people's priorities lay, in protecting guns and not children, so darn stupid.

If a dr is asking to advice the parent, how is it any different then asking about baby proving, laundry detergent, batteries and so on?
TruthSeeker.
by Milami on Jul. 19, 2013 at 8:49 PM
2 moms liked this

 I wouldn't care. It doesn't mean I would discuss whether or not I had one with them. There are many things in my home that are none of their business.

 I wonder if they plan to also ask if the family has a pool? Going to go out on a limb but they are probably at a greater risk of drowning in the family pool than being shot in their own home. Perhaps I am wrong.

TruthSeeker.
by Milami on Jul. 19, 2013 at 8:50 PM
2 moms liked this

 

Quoting Healthystart30:

Just shows where people's priorities lay, in protecting guns and not children, so darn stupid.

If a dr is asking to advice the parent, how is it any different then asking about baby proving, laundry detergent, batteries and so on?

 My Dr's never asked me about baby proofing or my laundry detergent. I definitely don't think they need to ask me about whether I own a gun or not.

NWP
by guerrilla girl on Jul. 19, 2013 at 8:53 PM

Do you think it should be illegal for them to ask?

Quoting TruthSeeker.:

 

Quoting Healthystart30:

Just shows where people's priorities lay, in protecting guns and not children, so darn stupid.

If a dr is asking to advice the parent, how is it any different then asking about baby proving, laundry detergent, batteries and so on?

 My Dr's never asked me about baby proofing or my laundry detergent. I definitely don't think they need to ask me about whether I own a gun or not.


Not Without Panties

TruthSeeker.
by Milami on Jul. 19, 2013 at 8:57 PM
1 mom liked this

  No. Of course not. They can ask whatever they want. But, I don't think refusal to answer should warrant CPS showing up at your door either. Not saying that's what will happe but you never know where they are trying to go with this line of questioning.  

Quoting NWP:

Do you think it should be illegal for them to ask?

Quoting TruthSeeker.:

 

Quoting Healthystart30:

Just shows where people's priorities lay, in protecting guns and not children, so darn stupid.

If a dr is asking to advice the parent, how is it any different then asking about baby proving, laundry detergent, batteries and so on?

 My Dr's never asked me about baby proofing or my laundry detergent. I definitely don't think they need to ask me about whether I own a gun or not.


 

NWP
by guerrilla girl on Jul. 19, 2013 at 9:02 PM

Why would CPS show up? Is owning a gun child abuse? 

I guess I'm just not getting it...

Isn't owning a gun supposed to make one safer?

Quoting TruthSeeker.:

  No. Of course not. They can ask whatever they want. But, I don't think refusal to answer should warrant CPS showing up at your door either. Not saying that's what will happe but you never know where they are trying to go with this line of questioning.  

Quoting NWP:

Do you think it should be illegal for them to ask?

Quoting TruthSeeker.:

 

Quoting Healthystart30:

Just shows where people's priorities lay, in protecting guns and not children, so darn stupid.

If a dr is asking to advice the parent, how is it any different then asking about baby proving, laundry detergent, batteries and so on?

 My Dr's never asked me about baby proofing or my laundry detergent. I definitely don't think they need to ask me about whether I own a gun or not.


 


Not Without Panties

Healthystart30
by Silver Member on Jul. 19, 2013 at 9:05 PM
1 mom liked this
Quoting TruthSeeker.:




There was an increase in babies and toddlers eating one specific detergent that comes in orange and blue packages so when I took my son in his pediatrician talked about it to me.
I was asked once on a questionnaire if we had a gun in the house, I answered no and was not asked again.
I don't think it should me mandatory for every doctor to ask, but putting it into law to ban a doctor from asking a question that could end up saving a child is ridiculous.
cjsbmom
by Lois Lane on Jul. 19, 2013 at 9:08 PM
1 mom liked this

I've been asked this sort of thing before, among other questions. If I don't feel like answering, I just say "I would rather not discuss that." I've never had a doctor push the issue. 

TruthSeeker.
by Milami on Jul. 19, 2013 at 9:10 PM

 I don't think it's child abuse, but I'm sure there are those that feel it's child endangerment. 

 Guns aren't just about safety. Many own them for hunting purposes and don't even keep them loaded or near ammo to even be used as a form of self defense.

  We have both kinds. Ones we use for safety and for sport at the range. We have other ones that are not loaded that are used for hunting.

  Whether we own guns or not is our business though. Who we choose to tell or disclose that to is also our business. We don't just share and tell people we know we have guns in our home. It usually never comes up. It's not something I would discuss with our Pediatrician or any other Dr.  

Quoting NWP:

Why would CPS show up? Is owning a gun child abuse? 

I guess I'm just not getting it...

Isn't owning a gun supposed to make one safer?

Quoting TruthSeeker.:

  No. Of course not. They can ask whatever they want. But, I don't think refusal to answer should warrant CPS showing up at your door either. Not saying that's what will happe but you never know where they are trying to go with this line of questioning.  

Quoting NWP:

Do you think it should be illegal for them to ask?

Quoting TruthSeeker.:

 

Quoting Healthystart30:

Just shows where people's priorities lay, in protecting guns and not children, so darn stupid.

If a dr is asking to advice the parent, how is it any different then asking about baby proving, laundry detergent, batteries and so on?

 My Dr's never asked me about baby proofing or my laundry detergent. I definitely don't think they need to ask me about whether I own a gun or not.


 


 

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