Pediatricians and other doctors soon will not be allowed to ask patients or their parents whether they have guns at home. Pediatricians commonly ask this question as a prelude to discussing gun safety in order to prevent accidents. Florida's governor, Rick Scott, is expected to sign this bill, and doctors will be liable for a $500 fine simply for asking that question and recording the answer in the patient's medical record.
The main backer for this bill is the NRA (National Rifle Association).
If the doctor repeats the question in subsequent visits, he/she may be liable to even heftier fines.
The NRA says that asking patients about gun ownership infringes on their Second Amendment rights.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP):
- 44 million Americans own firearms
- 40% of American households have guns
- Of 192 million firearms in the country, 65 million are handguns
- A gun at home is much more likely to kill somebody known to the family than in self-defense - 43 times more likely
- The risk of homicide is three times greater if a gun is kept at home
- The suicide rate in households that have a gun is 5 times greater than homes without one
The NRA says the AAP has an anti-gun agenda.
The AAP stresses that pediatricians ask about gun ownership in order to help reduce accidents, injury and death. The question is part of a series which also ask about vaccinations, whether the family has a swimming pool, whether they wear seat belts in their vehicles, etc.
Initially, the bill would have made it a felony for health care professionals to ask about guns, with a possible multimillion dollar fine, and even imprisonment. However, after liaising with the Florida Medical Association, the charge was reduced, and doctors can ask the question if they feel their patient is in danger.
Written by Christian Nordqvist