• Pediatricians are just trying to stop kids from dying

    The number one cause of death in children is accidents. More kids die of unintentional injuries than any disease.

    In kids age 10-14, the number three killer is suidice. The number four is homicide.

    If you look at kids 15-19, the number two killer is homicide. The number three is suicide.

    It’s not obesity, it’s not heart disease, it’s not diabetes. Kids are killed by accidents, by homicide, and by suicide. That’s why pediatricians ask about guns. But not in Florida:

    There’s one customary question, though, that I’m no longer allowed to ask. In June, Gov. Rick Scott signed a law barring Florida doctors from routinely asking patients if they own a gun. The law also authorizes patients to report doctors for “unnecessarily harassing” them about gun ownership and makes it illegal to routinely document firearm ownership information in a patient’s medical record. Other state legislatures have considered similar proposals, but Florida is the first to enact such a law…

    The measure was introduced in the state Legislature after a pediatrician in Central Florida dismissed a mother from his practice when she angrily refused to answer a routine question about whether she kept a gun in her house. The doctor, Chris Okonkwo, said at the time that he asked so he could offer appropriate safety advice, just as he customarily asks parents if they have a swimming pool and teenagers if they use their cellphones when they drive. He said that he dismissed the mother because he felt they could not establish a trusting doctor-patient relationship.

    Advocates of gun rights argue that routine questions about firearms violate their privacy, make them vulnerable to discrimination by insurance companies and the government, and “offend common decency,” as Marion Hammer, a former president of the National Rifle Association who lobbied for passage of the bill, put it in letters to N.R.A. members. Ms. Hammer said that gun-owning parents had complained to her for many years about pediatricians’ inquiries, which she believes are ineffective at preventing gun injuries.

    She contends that such inquiries are part of a political antigun agenda by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

    “You don’t go to a doctor to be interrogated or intimidated,” she said. “There’s a clear line between violating privacy rights and imparting safety information.”

    I ask parents regularly if they have a gun in the home. If they tell me they do, I ask how it’s stored. I recommend that they think about not having a gun around children. If they must, I recommend that they keep it unloaded, locked up, with the bullets stored separately.

    Why? Because in 2005, guns were were in involved in almost 85% of homicides and more than 45% of suicides in children aged 5-19 years, not to mention many accidents. I ask about guns because they are a major mechanism of childhood death. I’m trying to prevent that from happening.

    I’m not judging my patients or harassing them, any more than when I ask them whether they use bike helmets, or whether they use car seats, or whether they let their kids cross the street unaccompanied by an adult. I’m trying to keep them from getting killed. That’s my job.

    The Florida chapters of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American College of Physicians are contesting the law. I’ll be following the case with interest

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    • I recall answering the question about having a gun in the house at least once. I do remember wondering why it was important and now I know. Thank you for the statistics about childhood death. While that wasn’t the main point of the post, it’s probably what I’m going to remember the most.

      That and adding another reason to why I’m glad I don’t live in Florida.

    • So, these are the NRA’s three top arguments in opposition to pediatricians asking about gun ownership in the home:

      1. “Discrimination by insurance companies…” I don’t think anyone considers an increase in insurance price due to an increase in risk probability as “discrimination.”

      2. “Discrimination by the government…” Which government organization will do this? In what way will it do this? Where is there evidence of this?

      3. “Offends common decency…” I’d like to hear how the NRA defines “common decency .” In fact, I’d like to hear how they define “offends.”

      Overall, seems quite weak. This should be a tough sell… But of course, the arguments could be made stronger with a little money or political power to throw around.

    • Can doctors just do the gun safety spiel for _everyone_? “If you own a gun, here are some tips on safety…”. Any non-owners can cut the doctor off and say it isn’t necessary. Of course a shy gun-owner can also cut off the doctor, but he could just lie anyway.

      Also, isn’t a big justification for the NRA (how it claims to be more than just a vocal special interest group) the claim that it’s square behind gun safety initiatives?

    • So my doctor cupping my balls or putting a needle in my butt isn’t offensive to common decency, but asking about an inanimate object that I legally own is?

      Seriously, who ARE these people running our country?

    • “Why? Because in 2005, guns were were in involved in almost 85% of homicides and more than 45% of suicides in children aged 5-19 years, not to mention many accidents.”

      This. This is why people are pushing back against you. Ages 5-19? Really? Why such a ridiculous range?

      Because those gun homicides are 17 to 19 year old violent criminals killing each other. But that doesn’t sell gun control. So you pretend it is all about 5 years olds finding daddy’s gun.

      ANY politically aware gun owning parent is going to know this. And they are going to respond to it as the attack that it is.

      If you already know this, you are intentionally misinforming people to push a political agenda.

      If this is news to you, you are not well enough informed to be giving advice on the subject.

      THAT is why they passed this law.