New Florida gun law muzzles pediatricians, health care workers

By David Ferguson
Sunday, May 8, 2011 12:00 EDT
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A pending law in Florida would make it illegal for pediatricians to ask families whether guns are being safely kept in their patients’ homes. Supporters of the NRA-backed measure insist that questions by doctors and other health care professionals amount to an invasion of privacy and a violation of their Second Amendment rights.

Pediatricians routinely ask parents about safety concerns in the home like whether or not the family has a pool, if the child wears a bike helmet, or rides in a car seat. To gun advocates, however, questions about the presence of firearms in a child’s environment are intrusive and go too far.

“We take our children to pediatricians for medical care, not moral judgment, not privacy intrusions,” says NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer. “This bill is about helping families who are complaining about being questioned about gun ownership, and the growing anti-gun political agenda being carried out in examination rooms by doctors and staffs.”

Pediatrician Dr. Louis St. Petery says that questions about safety are part of what physicians call “anticipatory guidance”. Doctors routinely assess the safety environment of patients and parents in order to more accurately advise them on how to avoid accidents and injuries.

The bill has been ratified by both houses of the Florida state Legislature and awaits the signature of Governor Rick Scott.

David Ferguson
David Ferguson
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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