QUESTION: Should Pediatricians be Allowed to Ask if You Own a Gun IF They’re Discussing Your Child’s Safety?

guns and doctorsI recently read an article where a doctor was discussing child safety with new parents. He checked in to make sure they knew the best sleeping position for the baby, how to properly install a car seat and other things like that. Then the doctor asked this question and the following happened.

“Do you have any guns in the home?”

Suddenly, the genial tone changed.

“I don’t think you should ask that question,” said the child’s father.

“Should I take that as a ‘yes’?” the intern pressed.

“I just don’t think you should ask.”

“Sir, we ask because we want to make sure that your baby is as safe as she can be, making sure you keep any guns locked up and away from her.”

“It’s none of your business.”

In many states there are laws banning doctors from asking this question. This particular doctor didn’t understand why it was such a big deal. He told a story of a new mother who said she did have guns in the house but she didn’t have a gun lock. Well, where the doctor was working actually kept gun locks in their storeroom. When he found out she didn’t have a lock, he simply went to the storeroom, retrieved one of the locks, and gave it to her. He said he also discusses using a gun safe, a gun locks and separating bullets from guns when parents of newborns say they have guns in the house.

Now, to me anyway, this doctor doesn’t want to take guns away from people. He simply wants to educate parents on gun safety. He is their child’s doctor and they are paying him to look out for their child. But could there be problems with doctors asking if guns are in the home?

One could argue that it isn’t the doctor’s business whether you have guns or not. But what if, in this case, the doctor is just asking for safety and educational purposes? If pediatricians asked to help educate new parents, that doesn’t seem so bad. It actually sounds like a huge benefit for gun owners. We can’t deny that some children do get their hands on guns and cause harm or even death to themselves or others. Even though most gun owners already take the safety precautions the doctor discusses, the few that slip through the cracks are just gasoline for the gun-controller’s fire.

So if a doctor has proper knowledge of gun safety, gun education could be beneficial to new parents. But the problem that arises is whether or not doctors have to put it on record that parents own a gun. If that is the case, then this would be a step backwards for gun rights in my mind. A doctor being knowledgeable in gun safety and educating parents is one thing, but putting gun ownership in medical records is something I can’t get on board with. The doctor never specified if they needed to record if the parents answered ‘yes’, but they don’t record other answers to safety questions so it would make sense they wouldn’t record the answer of the parents gun ownership.

Let us know what you think about pediatricians asking if guns are in a newborn’s house and whether they can provide helpful gun safety or if this is just opening Pandora’s box.

About the author: Rachel Wingenbach

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