Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Florida’s House and Senate passed a bill, written with the help of NRA lobbyists, that will prohibit doctors, particularly pediatricians, from asking whether there are guns in the home. Governor Rick Scott is expected to sign it; the measure is also being considered in North Carolina and Alabama. Doctors are permitted to discuss other domestic safety issues, but asking about guns and advising on their safe us are viewed as an “intrusion of...Second Amendment rights”:
As parents know, pediatricians ask a lot of questions. Dr. Louis St. Petery says it's all part of what doctors call "anticipatory guidance" — teaching parents how to safeguard against accidental injuries. Pediatricians ask about bike helmets, seat belts and other concerns.
"If you have a pool, let's talk about pool safety so we don't have accidental drownings," he says. "And if you have firearms, let's talk about gun safety so that they're stored properly — you know, the gun needs to be locked up, the ammunition stored separate from the gun, etc., so that children don't have access to them."
For decades, the American Academy of Pediatrics has encouraged its members to ask questions about guns and how they're stored, as part of well-child visits.
Who stands to be harmed by this misguided bill? The children under the care of pediatricians:
Ultimately, both Florida's Senate and House agreed with the NRA and voted to approve the bill. For supporters of gun rights, it's another victory — one that [Dr. Louis] St. Petery says will negatively affect pediatricians and their patients.
"Many pediatricians will think twice about asking about firearms and discussing firearms safety," he says. "What I think is going to happen is there'll be more children injured and killed from firearms in the home that are not properly stored."