What is it with pediatricians? Why are they so nosey; so politically correct? Why can’t they just treat their young patients and quit bothering the kids and their parents with invasive questions on matters having nothing to do with the practice of pediatric medicine?
Legislators in Florida finally have had it with nosey pediatricians asking children improper questions relating to whether their parents have firearms in the home; and they have acted to stop the practice.
Here’s the situation. Your child goes to the doctor for an illness. The physician conducts the normal examine; asking if your child has the sniffles or a sore throat. And then, out of the blue, the doctor asks if you keep a gun in your home. This actually is a question the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) encourages doctors to ask families. It is considered part of an effort to “counsel” and educate parents on ways to prevent incidents from occurring in the home.
What exactly does this have to do with practicing medicine? Absolutely nothing. Marion Hammer, executive director of the Unified Sportsmen of Florida, rightly believes it has everything with pushing a political and anti-gun agenda.
Hammer noted in an editorial published by the Tallahassee Democrat, that parents “have become concerned about whether those records can be used by the government or by insurance companies to deny health care coverage because a family exercises a civil right in owning firearms.”
This concern is not unfounded. According to the Ocala Star-Banner, Amber Ullman, a mother from Ocala, refused to answer the question posed by her child’s doctor, and was told “she had 30 days to find a new pediatrician.”
SB 432, a bill passed last week by the Florida Senate, will stop doctors from prying into the private lives of families by asking children or their parents if there is a gun in the home. This effort has paired unlikely partners — the National Rifle Association and the Florida Medical Association. These groups have worked to improve the legislation.
Reflecting the fact that occasionally a doctor may see a patient he considers to be potentially suicidal, the legislation was modified to provide an exception to the prohibited questions in such cases. The bill also has been amended to prevent insurance companies from denying coverage or increasing a premium based on the fact the person owns a gun.
Of course, the AAP doesn’t like this legislation. But this hardly is surprising, considering the organization openly supported the city of Chicago’s draconian anti-gun ordinance that last year was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court – a ruling the child doctors found “distressing.” To them, the appropriate solution to children being harmed by firearms is simply to “get guns out of their homes, their neighborhoods and where they play.”
Apparently, the Hippocratic Oath taken by these pediatricians includes a footnote to ignore the Second Amendment guaranteeing Americans the right to own a firearm.
Other opponents of the bill say the anti-gun questioning is harmless; and essentially no different than asking if a family has a swimming pool. Clearly the questions are not the same and the potential impact on families is quite different. However, the fact is that neither line of questioning is appropriate; and such inquiries, whether about guns or pools, have nothing to do with identifying and treating childhood illnesses or injuries.
While parents should educate their children on the dangers of irresponsible firearms use, just as they should teach them the dangers of playing around a swimming pool or sticking their finger in a wall socket, this is their job as parents. Permitting doctors to pressure children to snitch on their parents and confess whether there may be a firearm in the home, is neither appropriate policy nor proper medical practice. And the Florida legislature is correct in moving to put a stop to it.
-by Bob Barr, The Barr Code