Gun ownership: More states want docs banned from discussing

Doctors in Florida may now be fined $500 for asking patients or their parents whether they have a gun in their home. Under the current version of the law, expected to soon be signed by Gov. Rick Scott, physicians also would be fined for making note of gun ownership in a patient's medical record, and incur increased penalties for inquiring about gun ownership more than once.

The only exception to the deeply controversial legislation comes into play when the physician believes the patient is in immediate danger, Medpage Today reports.

Should this measure become law, the only means by which the physicians will be allowed to educate patients on gun safety will be to simply make the information available, such as with pamphlets in the waiting room.

According to the National Rifle Association (NRA), a lead supporter of the legislation, asking patients about gun ownership is an invasion of privacy and promotes an anti-gun political agenda. "I hope that if they are seriously interested in safety, they will disseminate safety information to all patients," Marion Hammer, a Florida-based NRA lobbyist and former president of the group, told Medpage. "And that they will stop asking questions they have no business asking."

Even with the negotiated exception to the ban in place, some physicians say that lives will be lost as a result of not discussing guns in the office. For example, while Dr. Paul Robinson, a specialist in adolescent medicine, recently told a Florida Senate committee that doctors would likely be allowed to counsel suicidal teens, he expressed concern that they may be prohibited from asking a bullied adolescent who is not suicidal about gun access or thoughts of harming someone else with a gun.

Although Florida's legislature is the first to approve such the measure, similar prohibitions are being considered in other states, including North Carolina and Alabama, according to NPR.

To learn more:
- read the article form MedPage Today
- see this piece from NPR
- check out this article from American Medical News
- and here's a post from the Los Angeles Times Booster Shots blog