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Colorado Shootings Put Docs vs. Glocks Law in Spotlight

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media, July 26, 2012

Not all physicians are upset with the Florida law. Timothy W. Wheeler, MD, founder and director of Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership, strongly questions whether doctors should ask about guns in a home. "It's wrong for a doctor to misuse the doctor-patient relationships to try to advocate for gun control in the doctors' office," Wheeler, a retired doctor in California, told HealthLeaders Media. "That's professional misconduct, and that is the reason the Florida law was enacted."

Physicians who specifically need to raise the gun issue do have a reason, however, if there is a "suspicion of mental illness, or homicidal or suicidal" tendencies, he adds.

Wollschlagger, a former military officer in the Israeli army, says he has a concealed weapon permit and enjoys shooting guns on a range.  He characterizes America's gun laws as "absolutely insane." The country's laws concerning assault rifles, are "crazy," and, he says, illustrate how important it is for docs to keep on eye on patients and families when it comes to guns in a household.

"There is no rational way to allow an average citizen without any involvement in security or tbe military to carry an assault rifle, it's absolutely insane," Wollschlagger says. " If somebody purchased 6,000 bullets for a high-powered assault rifle, for crying out loud, is he going to war?"

The federal assault weapons ban expired in the fall of 2004, but gun control advocates such as the Brady Campaign have supported banning military style semi-automatic assault weapons along with high capacity ammunition magazines.

While the gun debate accelerates, physicians in Florida will continue to have discussions with patients about guns, Wollschlagger says.  "We don't know if the state will continue the battle," Wollschlagger says, referring to possible state appeals of the court ruling.

Already, there are rumblings that the Florida Department of Health will appeal the court's ruling. Florida is the only state that has enacted legislation restricting physician speech on firearms safety counseling, but Alabama, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee and West Virginia have introduced similar bills in recent years.


Joe Cantlupe is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media Online.
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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