Glocks vs. Docs …

Just when I thought the whole 2nd Amendment issue could not possibly get any crazier, I came across this in the Washington Post:

Do you own a gun? Why your kid’s doctor needs to know.


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.

49 thoughts on “Glocks vs. Docs …

  1. Pingback: A Later Post Part I – A Follow-Up to Glocks vs Docs | Filosofa's Word

    • Quite the opposite, Jason! Your reblog brought me more viewers in one day than I have had since I started this blog 4 years ago! AND … several new followers. Plus, I have enjoyed the honest and mostly respectful discourse. Please feel free to reblog any of my posts any time! Actually I was planning to THANK YOU!

      Liked by 1 person

        • I try to be open-minded … if I were going to get angry at every differing opinion, then I shouldn’t be a blogger, right? I have only gotten angry once, and that was about a year ago when somebody threatened me with bodily harm … I didn’t much care for that, but it has never happened since. Have a good night, my friend!


  2. Also a gun owner, but I have no issue with this question anymore so than I would being asked if we have the outlets childproofed or if the kids are in the right car seats. People can be forgetful or ignorant of things regarding child safety, and a doc asking can, at a minimum, help one remember to bump handling xyz to the top of the list.

    And the exchange at the end…that’s one that scares the crap out of me. I can control things in my own home, but I have no idea what the parent of a kid in LM’s class is doing. So doctor or anyone else making parents somewhat accountable for how they’re storing their weapons not only protects their kids, but by extension my own.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. As a responsible parent and gun owner, I have to respectfully disagree with this sentiment. Here is why:

    As a responsible parent I keep my guns locked in a safe that my children do not have access to. I have taken my children shooting (I hunt with my son) to teach them how to properly handle the firearm but more importantly understand and respect what it is capable of. I also understand that my level of responsibility is not shared by every other parent, so I constantly talk to my children about what happens if they see (or are shown) a gun while at a friend’s house.

    You also have to be careful with statements like, “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.” Statistics are an interesting thing because, while numbers do not lie, how you choose to present the numbers can easily skew those numbers to fit whatever “perspective” you want.

    I would be willing to bet that drugs and alcohol play a bigger role in harming children and teens than accidental shootings. So perhaps it would be more relevant to ask if you have “drugs and/or alcohol” in the house? Would you be okay if your pediatrician asked you that question? Would you be okay if your pediatrician “had issues” or “vilified” you as a parent if you chose to indulge in either?

    If the answer is “no” then why is it okay to not give up one “freedom” but be okay with the suppression of another?


    • You make some interesting points … I think that you are right about drugs and alcohol as re teens, but likely not small children who are under the care of a pediatrician. Your points are valid, but outside the realm of this post. Perhaps I will give some consideration to tackling the far broader subject suggested by your points at some time. Thank you for your comments … I do appreciate hearing all sides.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I try not to be “rabid” about my beliefs (I am not an NRA member BTW) and simply try to offer logical alternatives that may give someone pause and an opportunity to think.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Respectful disagreement is ALWAYS welcomed here! We can and should learn from others who may not always agree with us and I try to listen with an open mind, though I admit I sometimes fail at this. Thanks again, Vic!

          Liked by 1 person

          • I try to be the same way. Open to other perspectives, may not change how I feel but at least I am willing to listen and engage in a productive debate.


    • I know, my friend. I was shocked by that, but then when i look at the rationalization and “justification” people used after the multiple school shootings we have had in this country in the last 5-10 years …. Interestingly, as you can see from the comments on this post, gun “rights” is quite possibly the most volatile topic in the U.S. Sad, but true. Sigh.


  4. If any person, child or otherwise, is injured or killed through the negligent handling or storage of a firearm then the person responsible for such handling or storage should be prosecuted to the full extent of existing laws and such prosecution given a maximum amount of publicity. For those opposed to gun ownership in the USA, that’s why we have an amendments process for our constitution. Beat the drums and rally your fellows. If you are successful then I’ll hand over any firearms I might have at the time. Personally I am more concerned about the desensitization (defined as the diminished emotional responsiveness to a negative or aversive stimulus after repeated exposure to it) of our youth and other impressionable people toward the value of human life. Perhaps the doctors should be asking if we own certain video games or view particular types of motion pictures or TV programs. I recently had a friend tell me that he plays Grand Theft Auto regularly with his preteen son and hasn’t seen any negative effect on the boy’s behavior. A future conversation might well be, “he was always such a good, quiet kid. I don’t know why he snapped like that, stole my gun and took out those two guys who had been bullying him.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Though I am opposed to private ownership of firearms, I must admit you also have a valid point about the values we are teaching our young people about humanity. To an extent, the violence to which we are exposing our youth may actually further my argument about guns in the hands of civilians. Thank you for your thought-provoking comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Well … I certainly never imagined the amount of angst I was stirring up with this post. I would like to clarify one thing. I certainly did NOT intend to imply that gun owners should not be parents! I apologize if my statement came across that way, as I would never intentionally say that. As Jason mentioned, I do try to be fair, but in this instance, I did not realize how it would sound. I readily admit that I do not like guns, but more, I do not like the fact that the few laws we have in this country regarding gun ownership are disregarded and it has led to 36,000+ people being killed in gun-related incidents last year. The 2nd amendment stands, and likely will for some time to come. I respect that, but at the same time, I believe that even one child being killed because a gun owner was careless is tragic. If a doctor asking a question, then proceeding to give some common-sense advice to a parent, can prevent the death of one child, then I believe it should be so. I do not understand how this infringes on the parent’s right to privacy or to own guns. At any rate, please forgive any misconceptions my post may have given. It was certainly not my intention.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Well said Jill and it is your right to opinion. I have to ask is there anything that “counters” that tragedy in your mind (a child being killed by a careless gun owner)? Such as the story a month ago about a teenager using her father;s handgun to kill an intruder? Is that not a balance to you or is that still tragic?

      I think often people view the “gun debate” from differing perspectives due to where they grew up. I grew up in a very rough city, Memphis, TN, and I understand why people want protection. Waiting over 30 minutes for the police just doesn’t cut it. As a father, and a good parent, I’d shoot any intruder dead before the cops came.

      Liked by 2 people

      • You ask a good question, Jason … something that I cannot answer in the short space of a comment, but perhaps I will write a post later this week, trying to explain my thoughts on it all. Briefly, no, I don’t think one cancels out the other. The child is still dead, and now another person is also. But I also understand your point, and if I owned a gun (I do not, as you probably knew) I might shoot somebody who intended to harm my family. Maybe. I don’t know, because I haven’t been in that situation. I have a pretty darn sharp butcher knife, though, that I am pretty sure I could use to maim an intruder 😉 Thanks for being a voice of reason in this discussion tonight …

        Liked by 2 people

  6. I am not currently a gun owner, nor do I currently have children in my home. I’ve had both at times, however, and in all honesty, I think there’s some flaws in the thinking, here.

    First, that number and the exclamation that it happens “more than five times a week.” It feels borderline fearmongering, because while it sounds like a terrifying number, and while one would prefer such a number didn’t exist, it’s realistically just a drop in the bucket amongst the assorted causes of death and injury to us silly humans in any given span of time. As an example, there were roughly 800,000 “severe, requiring medical treatment” dog bites in America last year. 34 of them resulted in death. That’s about 16,000 a week, but no one is taking a crusade to the internet, shaking the banners and claiming some dog-loving organization is secretly manipulating things in a bid for control.

    Second, regardless of whether doctors should or shouldn’t know if there’s guns around – which, honestly, I’d say “no,” because you’re looking at a slope that eventually leads to asking if there butter knives in the house and having them removed because three kids a year manage to slit someone’s wrist with one; the pool is an inequal analogy as well, because pools can present an environmental hazard to individuals with athsma or allergies, given the presence or potential presence of chlorine, algae, additional insects and whatever contaminants guests may leave behind, issues which guns do not present – what would go a bit farther in lowering that number is education. I know I probably sound like one of the NRA nutters at this point, but parents actually, you know, being parents, behaving responsibly, and instructing their children properly on the nature of such things, what they’re for, and what they do instead of stockpiling weapons because “hyuck, hyuck, thisere thingy makes a big a’mighty hole!” and calling stuffing it on the top shelf of the closet “gun control” would be a hell of a lot more effective. Actually prosecuting parents as being liable for the death or injury of children in their care in these sorts of accidents would also cut into the numbers, I suspect. Nobody is out there legislating electricity, and that’s a lot more omnipresent and easier to abuse; why? Because mommy and daddy teach kids early not to stick forks in light sockets. Same logic, at least in my book.

    Doctors knowing there are guns in the house or not isn’t helping anyone. Because “common” sense should say “That’s a weapon, get educated and leave it the hell alone.” All it’s doing is riling things up. And as far as a doctor saying he won’t treat a child on those grounds, that’s honestly deplorable in my opinion. “I believe this child might be endangered by this situation, rightly or wrongly, but against my oaths as a physician and my moral compass as a human, I wash my hands of it and tell them to get out.” That’s laudable? Seriously?

    I think I’ve rambled enough. It’s just my two cents. Interesting article, regardless, and presents some food for thought regardless.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree with you that number sounds like a drop in the bucket. Afterall, 319 million people live in the USA, but did you consider, how many children between the age of 1-14 live in America? It’s also worth noting that the doctor’s interest in guns is due to guns falling under the accidental injury profile, so doctors aren’t creating a crusade against gun ownership.

      In regards to your second point, here in Australia doctors do ask how do you store your knives, do you have a pool, do you own a gun, do you have stairs.
      You make an argument that common sense should be to keep hazards away from the children, but lets be honest.

      My little brother used to climb up the kitchen bench and play with knives in the uppermost drawer. we kept it up high, we didn’t expect that.
      A few decades back, you didn’t even need a fence around a pool. People also argued against it, and then some poor kid fell in and drowned and suddenly it was a law.

      What I’m arguing is that there’s a lot of people out there that are stupid. They would argue anything because safety can be inconvenient. There’s nothing wrong with a doctor looking out for children’s health, and that’s all this article is about. If guns weren’t so politicised in America, it would be doctor’s just doing their job.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I agree with most of what you say. But I’m a bit of a misanthrope who finds the steadily-dropping IQ of the human race in general (and Americans in particular) almost a personal affront, so I tend to have a lizard-brain mentality on these sorts of things that crunches the numbers and says “let Darwin do the work.”

        As you say, were it not a political hotbutton, nobody would care what the doctors ask; really, the thing that irks me the most about the whole thing is a doctor saying “I’m not treating this family” over it. One could argue CYA and potential future malpractice rates, but it still doesn’t seem right… And, if he genuinely believed it to be a dangerous issue that needed to be dealt with, by walking away he has violated the supposed motive of looking out for his patients’ health.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t think anyone is arguing whether or not we should be offended if a Doctor asks. They can ask. What we have an issue with is this part of the article… and it is obvious why.

        “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.”

        This is a blanket statement basically saying that if you value gun rights, you don’t value your children. Jill may not have meant to make it sound like that, and I know her as a blogger and she is a fair person. BUT IT DOES sound that way and for many of us that are gun owners and FOR gun rights… that ain’t right.

        Yes laws and policy should be made to cover human ignorance and stupidity. But make that argument FOR unwarranted intrusion seems a faulty argument considering how many other child safety issues happen and are overlooked. Also how many issues are overlooked when further investigation IS warranted.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Maybe I misinterpreted the statements given then. I’ll admit, I’m from Australia so the whole gun argument seems a bit of a misnomer to me. I’ve held guns before, shot them but I don’t like them and that frames my mentality around the subject, so I tried to stray from mentioning anything about gun rights.

          Liked by 2 people

        • Why does a doctor need to ask any type of question like that? I mean, unless you’re going there for your kids injury how does asking whether you have guns, fenced in pool, knives all safe and away ect relevant? What reason does a doctor have to ask a parent how they keep their child safe?

          Keep in mind though that I’m a person who lives in Australia and also doesn’t have kids, I’m commenting because I’d like to understand why this is such a big deal. Because gun ownership is not something I’ll ever understand. Over here you have to pass numerous amounts of tests as well as get a license and if you get that, even if you used it in self defence against a person who’s attacking you, you’re the one who gets in trouble, pretty decent trouble actually because we’ve been taught to believe that guns are scary and dangerous unless you are trained to use them.

          So I don’t get it. I know heaps of hunters with guns that go out target shooting or whatever with kids and no one bats an eye. And again (don’t have kids) I still don’t know why a doctor needs to know that type of information when it’s up to the parents to keep a child safe.

          Again, coming from a completely naive point of view. Just trying to understand better.


  7. I totally disagree with your argument, this is none of the doctors or anybody else’s business! These types of questions have nothing at all to do with the health of the child and are just a back door entry to knowing where every gun in the country is located. Getting kids to spy on their parents is a despicable tactic we used to rightly put down to only the NAZIs and Stalinists. Now we are using the children more and more here in the ‘free’ USA.
    I am very thankful for the woman who was willing and able to stand up to this huge intrusion of our rights (along with the NRA). We DO have a right to keep and bear arms. It is not the same as asking about swimming pools at all. You make your prejudice plain when you start your post with talking about that “crazy” 2nd amendment.
    I say shame on that doctor! A physician is supposed to work for YOU and NOT the government! The doctors didn’t come up with those intrusive questions on their own, they were ORDERED to by the federal government. Any doctor who would be so happy to work against my interests is not someone I would ever want to see again. It’s a real shame so many people are being forced into dealing with that kind of sad choice. Liberty is just as important (more so for many) than physical health.


    • Well, you know how I feel about guns, but I still respect the Constitution and still respect an individual’s right to own firearms. My objection comes when people regard that as a higher priority than the safety of their children, and I don’t think for a minute that you are in that category. The idea of doctors asking if a gun is in the home, does nothing to deprive the parent of his guns, but is simply an attempt to try to make the parent more aware of gun safety where kids are exposed to them. Hope I didn’t offend you … but thanks for reading and for the re-blog! Appreciate it!

      Liked by 2 people

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