Do you have a firearm in the house? Docs, their questions and Georgia’s next gun fight

In Florida, Republicans in that state’s legislature are pushing a bill to prohibit physicians from asking patients whether they own a gun.

We’re told a similar firearms privacy measure is being prepared for Georgia, and will hit within the next few weeks.

A preview from the Florida Times-Union:

Over the past three decades, Jeff Goldhagen has counseled countless parents on how to keep their kids safe around guns. The Jacksonville pediatrician usually begins the conversations with a question: Do you own any firearms?

That kind of inquiry could land him in jail for up to five years or cost him a $5 million fine under a measure making its way through the Florida Legislature, despite stiff resistance from medical groups. The bill would make it a felony for a physician or any medical worker to ask a patient or the patient’s family whether they own a gun.

Gun rights advocates say the bill offers critical privacy protection for firearm owners. But Goldhagen and others in the politically powerful medical lobby say a patient’s safety trumps privacy in all cases.

In response, Florida’s National Rifle Association affiliate has backed down – slightly – by offering an exception to the legislation that would shield doctors from prosecution in cases that involve mental health issues, such as a patient who is suicidal.

Attention, Medical Association of Georgia lobbyists. This is your wake-up call. Start your meters.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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36 comments Add your comment

Scot

January 31st, 2011
4:15 pm

I am about as conservative as they come, so I support gun rights. But this seems to be more or less a free speech issue, as in this would violate a doctor’s right to ask questions of patients (speech). A patient is not required to answer a doctor’s questions, so why the need for legislation?

GaBlue

January 31st, 2011
4:19 pm

Sounds like they want to allow the lobbyist-owned nanny state to limit the free speech of doctors. Sounds like the Florida “conservatives” want to stick their noses — by way of GOVERNMENT — in the middle of the doctor-patient relationship. Of course Georgia is just itchin’ to be the new Florida, so we have this debate to look forward to in lieu of our legislature actually solving any of our pressing issues like transportation and education. Woo-hoooo!

Stephanie

January 31st, 2011
4:21 pm

When my family member was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, one of the first things we had to do was remove his hunting rifle from the home. I wouldn’t have thought of it right away and I’m really glad the doctor did.

Bawney Fwank

January 31st, 2011
4:28 pm

I was asked that by a doctors aid, just once, filling out a yearly health assessment questionaire at my Duluth doctors office back during the Clinton Aministration when the progressive anti-2nd amendment democraps were wasting millions of dollars of taxpayer money forcing the CDC to investigate whether guns were dangerous and a disease, instead of trying to fight aids, flu, infections, etc.
I told her it was none of her friggin’ business!

Ralph Jr.

January 31st, 2011
4:51 pm

I was asked by my doctor why I was feeling so sick. I told him that it was the past 8 years of GOP leadership and the equally brain dead GOP in Georgia, destroying this once great country/state, that made me sick. He prescribed me some nausea medication, to alleviate the symptoms of GOP induced sickness, which affects 95 percent of the normal population.

Len Griffin

January 31st, 2011
4:57 pm

Should you have a weapon at home? Jesus said to sell your cloak and buy one so you can protect yourself, family and property. Heck that’s good enough for me.

wondering

January 31st, 2011
5:01 pm

Can a Doctor refuse to treat a patient in house if the patient has a gun? Can a patient legally carry a firearm into a doctors office? I think we need a rethink on gun regulation in Georgia.

we are doomed

January 31st, 2011
5:11 pm

I have no problem with them asking as long as they don’t keep record of it.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jim Galloway, Deetz. Deetz said: RT @politicalinsidr Do U have a #guns in the home? Docs_their questions & #Georgia’s next #gun fight http://bit.ly/hgSNQx #gapolitics #tcot [...]

Who cares ?

January 31st, 2011
5:26 pm

So let them ask. Refuse to answer.
If they do pass a bill, fine. It should be more detailed though to prevent a back-door ‘registration’ through the AMA by trying to penalize doctors who don’t ask, and/or who refuse to pass on this information. In addition, a doctor should be sanctioned for telling anyone your personal business wether he/she asks or not, or wether you volunteer such information. As for the Alzheimer’s patients, it should be incumbent on the relatives to make this determination and make sure the AMA and doctors leave it alone. We don’t need any more avenues for potential stazi in this Republic.

GaBlue

January 31st, 2011
5:31 pm

Doctors write down EVERYTHING you say. Insurance companies than use that information, whenever they can, to deny your claims or terminate your coverage. There is no such thing as privacy once you open your mouth. Electronic records are easily accessible by all sort of people who have no interest in keeping your private matters private. The NRA and the legislators they own want laws to protect the “gun” part of your life, but have no problem with corporations kicking you around for whatever else they find out about you. Best just to say nothing and let the doctor figure out what’s wrong.

RBN

January 31st, 2011
7:17 pm

Law of physics – stupidity flows from everywhere into Georgia.

HL

January 31st, 2011
7:27 pm

Should a doctor be allowed to ask about……………..fill in the blank. Why go to a doctor if you can’t talk openly.

doug

January 31st, 2011
7:54 pm

don’t ever tell your doctor ANYTHING you don’t want anyone else to know. doctor/patient “confidentially” is a myth. i once joked to a doctor i “probably” smoked and drank too much” when she asked (i don’t do either), and later was turned down for life insuranced based on her putting that in my file. tell ‘em where it hurts, but leave any personal feelings out of it. doctors can not be trusted, they DO NOT have YOUR best interests at heart no matter what they tell you!

Last Man Standing

January 31st, 2011
8:19 pm

RBN:

“Law of physics – stupidity flows from everywhere into Georgia.”

Must have hit you square in the a$$ when it rolled in. Leave!

bobthegunslinger

January 31st, 2011
9:39 pm

a doctor inquiring into one`s mental health is fine,but when i`am required to answer a question as to whether i own a gun to get my children vaccinated,well then i have a problem!a doctor is educated in health and medicine;he is not a safety expert!;and i`ll be damned if it is his business!let doctors focus on healing,as i won`t tell him how he should repair his computer!stick to your own business!

Rogie

January 31st, 2011
10:22 pm

As a physician, the only reason I even inquire is to ask whether the firearms are secured and safe from children. It’s more of a safety issue than anything else and you’d be surprised at how many people admit to being careless. I don’t even record it in the chart.

As far as being turned down for life insurance because of how much one drinks — it isn’t the doctor that’s making that determination— it’s the insurance company. We’ve had patients turned down for insurance because it was in their chart that they regularly take a beta-blocker for migraine headaches. The insurance company decided that the beta-blocker was being given for high blood pressure even though there was documentation for ten years that contradicted that. The patient’s blood pressure was normal. Don’t displace your anger at what happened toward the MD — it was someone else that made that judgment.

Smith N. Wesson

January 31st, 2011
10:32 pm

If the doc can require you to disclose whether there’s a firearm in the home what’s to stop him from inquiring about anything else? Do you have alcohol in your house? How about prescription medications, pornography, cable TV, sharp objects, a dog? Copies of the AJC (sorry had to throw that in). Does scalding hot water come out of the taps? Do you swear in front of your children, do you argue with your spouse? Is the child car seat properly buckled in – prove it to me. This is another slippery slope we don’t want to start down.

Rogie

January 31st, 2011
10:38 pm

I can ask a question as a doctor and you can decline to answer. There’s nothing wrong with not wanting to talk about specific subjects that you are not comfortable with.

Patrick

January 31st, 2011
10:45 pm

One of the most dangerous things in any house is the toilet, because it has enough water in it to drown a person. So does a bathtub or the kitchen sick, or heck, even a dog bowl in the right circumstances. And a person can drink too much water and die from it. Or they can choke to death on their own saliva.

Are we going to rate people’s risk based on how many faucets they have in their homes? How about how many steps or stairs they have? What if they have more than two exterior doors? Or a wooden railing that could lead to splinters? Where does it end?

It ends when everyone is confined to padded rooms safely assured that they cannot harm themselves or anyone else. A whole nation of such people will be totally safe.

Last Man Standing

January 31st, 2011
10:48 pm

I doubt that most doctors care whether you have a gun, knife or a tactical nuclear weapon – unless you live VERY close to his office or home. In my experience with doctors (and there have been many), the doctors simply attempted to obtain enough information to make a proper diagnosis or to determine what tests wree in order.

Last Man Standing

January 31st, 2011
10:51 pm

typo: “wree in order” should read “were in order”
Sorry . . .

M. Welby

January 31st, 2011
10:56 pm

My old dad used to say that whenever he went to the doctor’s office the first thing they did was x-ray his wallet. That I believe sums up what doctors are mostly interested in – $$$.

Keith

January 31st, 2011
11:01 pm

Went to a new doctor today and on the questionaire I was asked if I had smoke detectors in my home and if I wore seatbelts. I refused to answer either one.

frinkie

January 31st, 2011
11:04 pm

Of all the major dailies in the US, the AJC has some of the more ignorant comments. I’m a pediatrician and when I worked in Ga., people often got incensed when I asked the gun question. It has to do with safety. Period. If you’re paranoid enough to find an ulterior motive, then proceed directly to a shrink. Now I work in the real world, in New England, where no one owns guns and when I ask the same question, people laugh and ask why I’d even include that in the exam. Screwed up, divided nation. Time for us to secede from you., Sayonara, blowhards.

Shrink

January 31st, 2011
11:52 pm

frinkie

January 31st, 2011
11:04 pm
“Now I work in the real world, in New England, where no one owns guns…”

If you truly believe that you’re not in the real world bubba, you’re in la la land.

beep beep

February 1st, 2011
6:05 am

Gun Control Works…..All the experts agree….Hitler, Castro, Qaddifi, Stalin, Idi Amin, Mao Tse-tung, Pol Pot and Kim Jong -il

jd

February 1st, 2011
6:33 am

Guns are the object of our worship. Guns are our god. We must protect Guns before feeding our poor, clothing the needy, protecting and educating our children. Let us recite a pledge to Guns.

Lt Dan

February 1st, 2011
7:26 am

The Georgia Legislature should stayed focused on more serious matters, such as micro-chipping people without their consent. Wait, maybe the real connection is the conspiracy that the doctor will ask about guns in the home as a distraction, so the microchip can then be slipped in while the patient is listing the number of guns in the house. GIVE ME A BREAK, WHAT A JOKE!

Last Man Standing

February 1st, 2011
9:12 am

frinkie:

You may or may not be a doctor, but you surely are a pompous a$$.

LawDawg

February 1st, 2011
9:28 am

This might be the stupidest thing I have ever heard of. I own guns, but why in the hell would I be offended if a doctor asks me whether I have one? Gun owners’ privacy rights? Please.

I thought the new thing was being able to bring guns out of the closet (and into churches in bars), I thought we were supposed to be loud and proud about our guns. Now we are having firearm don’t ask, don’t tell. Can people get any stupider? Why would anyone be offended by this and how in the hell does anyone think felony sanctions are appropriate?

LawDawg

February 1st, 2011
9:29 am

This isn’t about gun control. Why would gun owners want this? This makes no sense at all.

Joe Bama

February 1st, 2011
1:09 pm

Why just ask about guns? What about swimming pools? Pools cause more deaths than guns. Or knives, hatchets, lawnmowers, etc.?

oneofeach4me

February 1st, 2011
2:10 pm

You can ALWAYS decline to answer. On the other side of it, if a doctor has any insight into how to keep my child safe from my own gun, I am all ears. Accidental shootings involving children happen WAY too often. No one wants the doctor to ask, and will even sanction him/her from doing so. But the minute the crazy depressed teenager plays shootem’ up at the local high school, and it comes out that they just recently went to see their physician, everyone will be looking at the doctor like they should have picked up on signs that the kid was a danger to his/her community. Can’t have it both ways people.

Hell, insurance companies can ask if you own a firearm, so why is everyone up in arms about a doctor asking you?? Who gives a rats ass?? If I don’t want to answer the question, I don’t. It’s the doctors’ right to ask, and my right to plead the 5th should I choose.

Oh yes, I'm the great pretender......

February 2nd, 2011
10:52 am

The Jacksonville pediatrician usually begins the conversations with a question: Do you own any firearms?

This sounds like something right out of the “Obama Playbook”.

@Last Man Standing

February 1st, 2011
9:12 am
frinkie:

You may or may not be a doctor, but you surely are a pompous a$$.

I would have added “hole” after the last word in the above

seabeau

February 3rd, 2011
8:53 am

The stats on child deaths by firearms have been skewed by liberals in the CDC who have included persons up to eighteen years old. Mostly gang-bangers whom probally got just what they deserved. Many more people are killed on our highways every year.