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Colorado Shootings Put Docs vs. Glocks Law in Spotlight

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media, July 26, 2012

"It's about our right as physicians to ask questions. We often ask questions that can be intimate and very personal," Wollschlaeger told HealthLeaders Media. "As a patient, you have a right to refuse or not (when asked the question about guns)." Families with children are particularly impacted, he says.  "If there are children in the household, we ask the question if you have a gun. Children disproportionately suffer accidental injuries from guns that are stored in the home, and the results can be tragic."

Wollschlagger, who also works in addiction medicine, says he counsels patients who have "psychiatric background issues" about the dangers of guns in the house.

Wollschlagger says his patients have reacted positively to his comments that may include questions about guns in their houses.  "I never had a patient who reacted aggressively or was opposed to the fact I asked this question," he adds. "It doesn't trigger a negative reaction, as claimed by many gun advocates, who say that physicians should stay out of it."  Some patients who may not have safeguarded weapons in their homes have told him "it's good you told me about it," Wollschlagger says.

The physicians' entanglement with Florida over the gun issue began last year after the Florida legislature passed The Privacy of Firearms Owners Act, (signed by Florida Gov. Rick Scott), which would have restricted physicians, nurses, and medical staff from asking a patient and patients' parents about firearms. Physicians accused of violating the law would have been sent before the Florida Board of Medicine for disciplinary action.

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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