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FL Primary Care Docs Battle 'Gun Gag' Law

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, June 13, 2011

Hammer says Florida pediatricians are following an anti-gun agenda laid down by the American Academy of Pediatrics, and pushed by groups like the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, which is assisting the plaintiffs in the suit.

"The American Academy of Pediatrics had on their web site for years that they support banning guns and they encouraged pediatricians to ask families if they own guns, and if they do to tell them to get rid of their guns, and if they don't to tell them not to buy guns," Hammer says. "That is not medicine and that is not appropriate and that is what the law is designed to stop."

If physicians are concerned about public safety issues, Hammer says, they should concentrate on the preventable medical errors that The Institute of Medicine has estimated kill more than 100,000 people each year. "If they want to save lives they need to clean up their own act before they go after gun owners," Hammer says.

Cosgrove says there is no way to make the law palatable for primary care physicians. "From our standpoint as the pediatric society, we said there doesn't need to be a law or anything that regulates the physician-patient relationship and nothing that interferes with what we say to our patients."

"To have a law that gags us, you start with guns, and where do you end up," she says. "Next time do you tell me I can't talk to my patients about their sexual activity, or their drug use. Where does it stop?"


John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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1 comments on "FL Primary Care Docs Battle 'Gun Gag' Law"


Tom (7/30/2011 at 1:18 PM)
I would think that office visits are short enough without having to expend time discussing patients personal non-medical situations in an attempt to push forth a Medical Association agenda. Even the general questions about pool covers or seat belts is irrelevant to the patient's treatment and we have the National Safety Council to address those issues - www.nsc.org . The physician is there to administer "Medical Treatment" and offer advice directly related to the condition of the patient. Physicians should not have the right nor the inclination to "Pry" into the private lives of patients or their families - it is a blatant disregard for patient privacy. If I have a intestinal problem why should the physician ask me if I own a gun? Hammer is correct in pointing out the failure of physicians to properly treat patients in cases that result in the deaths of over 100,000 yearly. Perhaps if physicians spent more time focusing on the patient's illness instead of consentrating on their "gun ban agenda" they would reduce the number of patient deaths due to "medical errors" significantly. The good intention of the medical profession is clearly overshadowed by it's failure to enact real change. They are not going to reduce or eliminate gun ownership by intruding their agenda on a per patient basis. It is clearly a bandaid approach to a hemmoraging problem. Anti-gun activists have been at it for years and nothing has changed. The only time a discussion about guns should take place between the physician and patient is when the patients initiate a concern about themselves or a family member in regard to depression or any number of mental disorders which may contribute to a irrational decision to use a gun as a solution. While there may be some patients that view the physician's inquiry as caring, Im sure there are many others who feel intruded upon and violated.