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Colorado Shootings Put Docs vs. Glocks Law in Spotlight

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media, July 26, 2012

Of course, a constant drumbeat about the inanity of our gun laws mount as disclosures reveal how James E. Holmes, the suspected shooter in the Colorado movie theater massacre, stockpiled weapons, and bought 6,000 rounds of ammo in the weeks before he allegedly gunned down 70 innocent people July 20, killing at least 12.  Included in the arsenal was a .40-caliber Glock handgun, a Remington 870 shotgun, an AR-15 assault rifle, and a high-capacity ammunition clip. 

It's almost appallingly predictable how the gun law debate ebbs and flows with each tragic incident that haunts the country.  And possibly no physician in the world could have counseled Holmes to steer him away from the madness. (According to media reports,  Holmes allegedly mailed a notebook "full of details about how was going to kill people" to a University of Colorado psychiatrist before the attack.)

But the Florida legal action, which has been dubbed "Docs vs. Glocks" by the press, puts a twist on the gun debate, by showing how some docs want to get into the heads of their patients, and advise them to get guns out of their houses, if need be.  Some of those discussions focus on whether kids are around the guns, or if a family member may have psychological issues that many believe should rule out having a weapon around.

Bernard Wollschlaeger, MD, FAAFP, a family practice physician in Miami, who is among the group of physicians who sued to successfully halt the Florida law, says he has counseled patients about gun use. As Wollschlaeger sees it, such conversations are important, not to clash with a person's privacy rights, but as an opportunity to improve a patient's health.

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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