If Florida Gov Signs bill, Doctors won't be able to grill patients about gun ownership
With a stroke of the governor's pen, Florida is positioned to become the first state in the nation to prohibit physicians from asking patients if they have guns in their homes, a move some doctors say will interfere with health care.
The Florida Senate passed House Bill 155 last month by a 27-10 vote and the measure now awaits the signature of Republican Gov. Rick Scott. If signed, it would ban doctors from asking about the presence of guns or ammunition in the home.
Republican State Rep. Jason Brodeur, a sponsor of the bill, proposed the legislation following an incident in which a Florida pediatrician told a mother to find another doctor when she refused to answer questions about guns in her home.
Supporters of the legislation, including the National Rifle Association, say they're seeking to stop doctors from invading their privacy. Critics of the bill, however, claim that doctors need to ask patients about guns to ensure their safety and to make sure they remain out of the reach of children.
"The [bill], if enacted, would limit pediatricians’ capacity to do what they do best -- compassionately and effectively care for children," read a March 30 statement released by The American Academy of Pediatrics. "Because unintentional injuries continue to be the leading cause of death in children older than 1 year, pediatricians play a key role in injury prevention by providing anticipatory guidance to parents during office visits to help minimize the risk of injury in the child’s everyday environment." . . .
A copy of the law is available here. Note that other states first tried to force doctors to ask patients about gun ownership.
Here is what I wrote on this topic a few years ago. Given the costs of gunlocks, there isn't much of a problem to solve in Florida or other states.
Here are what doctors are saying about the law.
The American Academy of Pediatrics' position on firearm-related injuries states "the absence of guns from children's homes and communities is the most reliable and effective measure to prevent firearm-related injuries" to them.
Timothy Wheeler, a retired surgeon in Upland, Calif., founder and director of Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership, cites the position statement as proof that pediatricians want to ban firearms. Pediatric residents "think it's normal to ask about guns in the home," he says. "They don't understand that it is an ethical boundary violation."
Louis St. Petery, a Tallahassee pediatric cardiologist and executive vice president of the Florida Pediatric Society, says prevention, not politics, drives children's doctors to inquire about firearms. . . .