June 06, 2011
To Fla. Physicians: Stick To What You Know, Leave Guns Out of It
By David E. Petzal
Florida’s Governor Rick Scott signed a law last week forbidding pediatricians to ask kids if their parents have guns in the home. The impetus for the law came when a Florida pediatrician allegedly refused to treat a kid when he learned that said urchin’s family were gun owners. (This was probably illegal as hell, but no one is talking about prosecuting the doctor.)
Florida’s legislators have already been called toadies of the NRA and dealt all the usual insults, but I can see their point. Let us say that Dr. Rubella questions little Timmy and learns that his daddy has a handgun.
What does Doc Rubella do? As it happens, Florida has a safe-storage law that says if you leave a gun where a kid can get at it, you can get 60 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. Does he call Dad in for counseling? Does he tell little Timmy that pop is probably a psycho and to leave home at once for his own safety? Does he phone the cops and call in a pre-emptive SWAT strike? What if the gun is safely stored? How would the doctor be able to tell from a kid’s description? When you study pediatric medicine is there a course on what constitutes safe gun storage?
Given the hysterical fear some people—including doctors—have of guns, I would prefer it that physicians stick to what they are supposed to know about and leave the guns out of it.