Florida Gov. Rick Scott
A lawsuit has been filed by gun-ban advocates over Florida’s new law that prevents physicians from grilling children in the name of “safety” about any firearms their parents may own, but Second Amendment experts say there’s an underlying agenda that plainly aims to discourage gun ownership and compile a database on those who won’t cooperate in getting rid of weapons.
The Orlando Sentinel reported that Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed a law that says doctors and other medical personnel cannot ask patients about gun ownership or guns in their homes and record the responses unless it is connected to the medical treatment.
The practice has been common at doctor’s offices nationwide for years, according to the Second Amendment Foundation. But Florida’s effort to protect patient privacy was met with a lawsuit by the Brady Center, where officials claimed, “When 40 percent of gun-owning households with children store their guns unlocked – and in one quarter of these homes the gun is stored loaded – doctors should feel free to talk about the risks guns pose to their families.”
The lawsuit seeks to have the law overturned.
But John Velleco, director of federal affairs at Gun Owners of America, said the lawsuit’s premise is wrong, because, “the new law does allow for doctors to discuss firearms ownership if relevant to a patient’s medical care or safety.
The sponsor of the plan, state Rep. Jason Brodeur, noted, “There’s nothing in the bill that would prevent a safety discussion about firearms like medical personnel would for swimming pools, chemicals or any other potential hazard.
“The bill only states that medical personnel can’t ask about firearm ownership directly, record the answer or condition treatment upon the response,” he said.
So if the issue is not that doctors are being prohibited from talking about guns among other dangers that children potentially could face, what is the goal of those who want the law struck?
Not complicated, assessed Velleco in a column on the Gunowners of America website.
“The lawsuit hardly conceals its bias against gun rights,” he wrote. “‘By severely restricting such speech and the ability of physicians to practice such preventative medicine, the Florida statute could result in grievous harm to children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly,’” the lawsuit’s plaintiffs alleged.
“No mention is ever made, of course, of the ‘grievous harm’ that is prevented because of lawful gun ownership. In fact, a wide range of studies show that self-defense uses of firearms dramatically outweigh accidents and the criminal misuse of guns. Doctors who discourage gun ownership actually make people less safe and more vulnerable to criminal attack,” Velleco wrote.
Alan Gottlieb of the Second Amendment Foundation says his organization has had complaints about doctors grilling people – children and adults – about gun ownership for a long time. Until the Florida case developed, there never was a court case in which to participate, he said.
He said the SAF will offer to participate in the Florida arguments through friend-of-the-court briefs.
“This has been going on for a long time. There have been complaints from a number of people in a number of states. Doctors discourage gun ownership, and in some cases say, ‘If you’re going to keep a gun we don’t want you as a patient,’” he said.
“They’re coming at this from a biased position, which is totally anti-gun rights,” he said, adding that even pediatricians and physicians have been upset by their medical organizations’ participation in the anti-gun campaign.
While some doctors may have been asking questions about guns for generations, the practice became formalized through the efforts of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which has produced a plan called The Injury Prevention Program.
It calls for doctors to have “a parent answer a Safety Survey in your reception room (The child should complete the survey at 10 years of age.” Further, the survey should remain on the record, and the “at-risk” answers should be noted. Then the doctors should counsel “the parent or child on specific injury prevention behaviors” and reinforce the counseling with its “safety sheet emphasizing the targeted safety messages”.
Doctors then need to be “documenting this counseling in the medical record.”
Doctors even have been known to insist that a parent leave his or her child in the examining room with a member of the physician’s staff, who then questions the child about any weapons parents may own.
“The pediatrician should remain an active advocate to change social attitudes about childhood injuries at the local, state, and national levels,” the organization advises.
The overall survey questions address issues such as whether parents leave the crib side up when they put a baby in a crib, ever leave the baby alone at home, allow plastic bags near a child or check the furnace. Instructions for the parents accompany each question.
“Is there a gun in your home or the home where your child plays or is cared for?” the first questionnaire demands.
The solution is, “Remove all guns from places children live and play. … Handguns are especially dangerous. If you choose to keep a gun at home, store it unloaded in a locked place. Lock and store the ammunition in a separate place.”
While the question remains the same, the suggested response for children as they get older gets more aggressive.
“Do not keep guns in your home. … Parents should ask if the homes where their child visits or is cared for have guns and how they are stored.”
By the time children reach age 10 to 12, they are told. “Do not play with guns! More than 300 children die each year of unintentional gunshot wounds. BB guns and paint pellet guns often cause severe eye injuries. Air rifles are dangerous weapons that can kill.”
Velleco said the collection of information about firearms legally in homes for protection raises other concerns, too.
“Besides questions about gun ownership being inappropriate and none of a doctor’s business – and besides the fact that most doctor organizations are vehemently anti-Second Amendment – there are serious questions about how such information could be abused,” he said.
“Under the new national health care law – which the American Medical Association and the AAP supported – the federal government will amass a database of patient medical records. In that case, information about gun ownership passes from the realm of doctor-patient confidentiality to potential abuse by bureaucrats in Washington,” he said.
Brodeur agreed, noting there are reasonable concerns about Washington, D.C., knowing who owns a gun.
“Brodeur’s worries are not unfounded,” Velleco wrote. “The American Association of Physicians and Surgeons has warned for years about the government breaching the confidentiality between doctors and patients, and we know that the federal government has already used medical records to take away people’s gun rights.
He said that has happened with returning veterans, who find their diagnoses of stress-related conditions from war are grounds for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to disarm them permanently.
Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America documented how President Bill Clinton added some 83,000 veterans into the National Criminal Information System – prohibiting them from ever from purchasing firearms, just “because of afflictions like PTSD.”
That the medical records routinely find their way into government hands is apparent with documents, for example, from Wisconsin, through which the Department of Health Services requires an annual reporting from patients who choose to not allow state and federal agencies review their health care records.
The Brady Campaign characterized the dispute as being over a “gag law” that was in “clear violation of the First Amendment rights of doctors and patients to discuss the severe risks posed by guns in the home.”
But Florida law HB 155 should be upheld, Velleco suggested, since, “Based on the experience of veterans, gun owners have every reason to fear that the prohibited person list will grow dramatically under ObamaCare.”
Fox News reported that Scott’s office defended the law and explained “it only bars doctors from inquiring about firearms if that information is not relevant to a patient’s care or the safety of others.”
“The law ensures respect for a patient’s right to own or possess a firearm and protects them from potential discrimination and harassment in cases where it is not relevant to the patient’s medical care or safety, or the safety of anyone else in the home,” spokesman Lane Wright told Fox in an email.
Brodeur took up the cause after a Florida pediatrician told a mother to seek another physician when she declined to provide the information the doctor demanded about firearms in the home.
The original plan had suggested serious penalties for violators, but as part of the discussions that involved the National Rifle Association, those were reduced, officials said.
He reported just days ago that a Washington Post Lifestyle section story told how Barack Obama told Sarah Brady, “I just want you to know that we are working on it [gun control.] We have to go through a few processes, but under the radar.”
“Obama’s ‘under the radar’ assault on the Second Amendment is under way,” Knox said.