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Colorado Shootings Put Docs vs. Glocks Law in Spotlight

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media, July 26, 2012

Should doctors warn patients about the risks of guns in the home?

In Florida, physicians who did just that could have lost their medical licenses—until recently.

Weeks before one of the worst gun violence incidents in U.S. history, a group of physicians won a court victory in a little-noticed case against a Florida law that threatened to strip doctors of their medical licenses if they warned patients about the risks of guns in the home.

Florida politicians, citing Second Amendment rights, were adamant that docs weren't in the gun-counseling business, and passed a statute to thwart such discussions. The physicians, however, prevailed in federal court to halt the measure.

It made me ask: How wrong can it be for physicians to raise questions about the presence of a gun in their patients' homes? And how far should physicians go with that discourse?

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4 comments on "Colorado Shootings Put Docs vs. Glocks Law in Spotlight"


Timothy Wheeler, MD (7/27/2012 at 4:06 PM)
Many doctors responding to this Florida bill know nothing of the history of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the AMA in advancing an aggressive gun control agenda. These organizations seek to [INVALID] doctors into their patients' private lives not to prevent injury, but to promote a political agenda against gun owners. That is wrong. In the 1990s the AAP teamed up with Handgun Control, Inc. (now known as the Brady Campaign) to craft their firearm policy. That policy, essentially unchanged for nearly 20 years, urges doctors to probe parents about guns in their homes and even to get rid of them. This goes far beyond any legitimate doctor's role. It is an ethical boundary violation to use your position as a doctor to advance a political agenda. Doctors who do so should be punished. The Docs v Glocks law addresses this legitimate need. Timothy Wheeler, MD

Dawn Simonds (7/27/2012 at 9:32 AM)
Thanks for this highly relevant and important article. Legislation that prevents physicians from counseling patients about their health is dangerous to the medical profession and to the patients physicians have vowed to serve.

Timothy Wheeler, MD (7/27/2012 at 5:59 AM)
Dr. Wollschlaeger, having military experience, should know that his term "assault rifle" refers to a military rifle with the ability to fire multiple rounds with one pull of the trigger (i.e., a machine gun). Such firearms have been all but outlawed in America since the 1930s, and crimes committed with them since then have been extremely rare. He probably means semiautomatic rifles, which people still commonly confuse with machine guns, mostly because of mischaracterizations like this one. Contrary to Dr. Wollschlaeger's assertions, regular citizens have used semiautomatic rifles to lawfully defend their lives and property during disasters such as Hurricanes Hugo, Andrew, and Katrina, and the Rodney King riots. Timothy Wheeler, MD Director Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership A Project of the Second Amendment Foundation