Just when I thought the whole 2nd Amendment issue could not possibly get any crazier, I came across this in the Washington Post:
It turns out that several years ago, pediatricians began asking parents if there are guns in the home as a part of their routine exam. My first thought? How very sad that we have come to this point. But just as I was about to close the article and move on, I read that in 2010, one Florida mother, Amber Ullman, rudely informed her child’s pediatrician that it was “none of [his] business”, then complained bitterly in the local newspaper that “whether I have a gun has nothing to do with the health of my child.” Really??? Is she that bloomin’ stupid? If a child is exposed to chicken pox, a parent is running to the doc, fearing for the life of her child, but if that same child is exposed to a lethal weapon every day of his life, it is not a threat to his health? The pediatrician, Dr. Chris Okonkwo, by the way, told her she had 30 days to find a new pediatrician and that she wasn’t welcome at Children’s Health of Ocala anymore. Good for him and shame on Ms. Ullman!
Well, as you might imagine, Ms. Ullman’s article attracted the attention of the ever-powerful National Rifle Association (NRA), who lobbied for a law prohibiting physicians from asking about guns in the home. It is called the “Firearm Owners Privacy Act” and it was enacted nearly five years ago, in July 2011. It states, in part, that doctors or their facilities “may not record firearm ownership information in patient’s medical record; provides exception; provides that unless information is relevant to patient’s medical care or safety or safety of others, inquiries regarding firearm ownership or possession should not be made.” I ask you, is not a gun a potential threat to the safety of the patient, as well as the safety of others? The law is commonly known as the “Glocks vs Docs” law. Have I mentioned before that the scope of the NRA is well beyond what is reasonable?
A federal judge, Judge Marcia Cooke, blocked the law as unconstitutional, saying it restricted physicians right to free speech and physicians question regarding guns in the home does not, in any way, interfere with the patients right to keep and bear arms. Then in July of last year, an appeals court overturned the ruling, citing the patient’s right to own guns and to privacy. The full U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit is now preparing to hear the case. Sadly, legislators in at least 12 other states have expressed interest in similar bills. Sigh.
One mother took her 7-year-old son for a routine check-up with his pediatrician. Here is how that conversation went:
Doctor: Do you have guns in the home?
Parent: Of course not — we don’t believe in that!
Child (looking up from iPad with a grin): But Bobby’s dad has a really cool gun! Bobby showed it to me last week!
The leading cause of death in children between the ages of 1-14 is unintentional injury, a category that includes car accidents, suffocation, burns, drowning and gunshot wounds. Pediatricians also ask whether a family has a swimming pool on their property, yet nobody has felt compelled to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars bringing a lawsuit about that! Pediatricians counsel parents about all of these issues. They may explain how to properly install car seats, caution against children playing with plastic bags, teach about safe water temperature, discuss safety around pools, and discuss proper and safe firearm storage. In 2015, children accidentally shot themselves or someone else at least 278 times, averaging more than five times a week. Yet according to the NRA and apparently most gun owners, that is acceptable?
Let us hope that someone, somewhere along the line, preferably the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, has some “common” sense. The bottom line is that a patient or parent can always refuse to answer the question, or simply disregard the advice of the physician. But just in case a few parents might actually listen to the advice, just in case the life of a few children might be saved, let us not bind the hands of the very person who is actually trying to keep our children safe! Parents need to give the health and safety of their children a higher priority than their own right to privacy, or even their second amendment rights to own guns. If they do not, then perhaps they do not deserve to be parents.