Lawyers, Guns and Doctors

Lawyers, Guns and Doctors

45
SHARE

Recently both President Obama and the AMA have called for physicians to talk with their patients about gun ownership, especially if they sense mental health issues. This request sounds innocuous enough, but let’s explore the implications and the reality here.

First I need to issue a disclaimer. I am neither a member of the NRA nor do I necessarily feel that more gun laws and bans will reduce the recent tragedies in Newtown, Ct. or Aurora, Co. Gun safety should be of paramount importance to all gun owners. However, if I am going to ask all my patients about gun safety and ownership, then there are a few other dangerous things I need to engage them with as well.

“Do you own a pool?” (Quite relevant since we live in Florida.) “If you do, do you have small children at home or as guests? Do the neighborhood children come by? Do you have a pool fence and is it locked at all times? Have you thought about how many accidental drowning of children there are in Florida every year? Have you taken a course in pool safety?”

Or how about this topic: “Do you own a dog? What kind of dog is it? Were there any pit bulls in its family lineage? Do you have small children at home or grandchildren? Has your dog ever bitten anyone? (Okay, the mailman doesn’t count.) Have you taken a course in dog safety ownership?”

You see where I am going with this of course. First of all, I, and most doctors, don’t have the time to engage in this dialogue with my patients, since I am too busy asking about percentage of seat belt use, quitting smoking, updating medicine lists and system reviews, and filling out ridiculous “meaningful use” of EHR forms, just to get paid from Medicare. And even if I did have time, it is really none of my business. And if even if it was my business, asking this would not prevent a mentally aberrant person from finding weapons and using them in a hideous fashion.

The fatal flaw in this logic is that the desire to do good, does not lead to good results. In fact the opposite is often the case. A recent Opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, (January 16,2013), by Jeffery Scott Shapiro highlights this paradox. He was a criminal prosecutor in the District of Columbia from 2007-09. In essence, during the strictest gun ban years, the rate of homicides increased. Ultimately in 2007, the U.S. Court of Appeals in D.C. ruled the city’s gun ban to be unconstitutional. The US Supreme Court also affirmed the ruling the next year. Since the ban was struck down in 2008, the homicide rate dropped from 186 to 88 in 2012, the lowest number since the original ban law was enacted in 1976.

Recent shooting tragedies do launch a knee jerk reaction by well-intentioned politicians, but as usual, the beneficial results of new laws often achieve the opposite, since the criminal, or deviant mind, will always find a way to purchase weapons. So following are my thoughts on what might help.

Loosen the HIPAA laws so deranged individuals can have their psychiatric history quickly accessed by mental health providers.  Tighten the “gun show” loopholes, so gun purchases meet the same measures at shows as at a gun store. If the government insists on throwing more money at a problem, (and they excel at always doing so), then invest in more mental health professionals and treatment facilities. Make it easier for teachers, (who want to), learn gun safety and obtain concealed weapons permits. Every adult who supervisors school outings in Israel is trained in weapon use and carry semi-automatic guns on field trips. You never hear about these tragedies in that country.

But mandating doctors to ask patients about gun possession? You can count me out on that one. This is an invasion of privacy, and worse, will do nothing to curtail the periodic catastrophe that occurred at Sandy Hook.

– “To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace. A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined.”
– George Washington, First Annual Address, January 8, 1790.

David Mokotoff founded the Bay Area Heart Center in St. Petersburg, Florida. You can follow him at his personal site here.

Leave a Reply

45 Comments on "Lawyers, Guns and Doctors"


Member
Today 10:49 am

Thanks, for sharing such an informative post. 🙂

Member
Jun 4, 2018

Seems like it won’t be a problem soon enough cuz we will lose permission to carry or even own a gun

Member

Great post Thanks for share 🙂

Member
Mar 5, 2016

After years of reloading i can tell you that the best reloading press is Hornady Lock N Load
take a look of the top 4 here …
http://therateinc.com/sports/best-reloading-press-reviews

Member

Nice post and I believe your post is really convincing.

Guest
Sep 12, 2014

Doctors have a lot on their plate and are starting to be asked to step into arenas that they may not be exactly qualified for. But if giving a doctor this responsibility to ask those questions and document it in the patient’s chart saves one life, that’s it’s probably worth it. Everyone really needs to step up to make this world a better place, not just physicians.

Guest

I do think many of the ideas you’ve got offered in your posting. They may be extremely convincing which enables it to definitely operate. Nevertheless, this articles are so easy for novices. Could you remember to increase these folks a little bit out of subsequent period? Wanted posting.

Guest
Jul 15, 2013

asdasd

Guest

I absolutely love your blog.. Pleasant colors & theme. Did you make this amazing site yourself? Please reply back as I’m trying to create my very own site and want to know where you got this from or what the theme is named. Kudos!

Guest
Jun 12, 2013

Judy Stewart jstewartdesigns.com

Guest
john
Jan 31, 2013

How about the people who regularly show road rage and also those who will not stop drinking and driving.Im sure it would be a good deterent for DWI deaths and accidents.If they don’t wise up take away their guns before you even consider a person who suffering from a nervous condition and almost always is harmless.

Guest
Jan 28, 2013

I would repeal the 2nd Amendment and replace it with something that makes sense today and going forward.

http://bgladd.blogspot.com

I know, isn’t going to happen.

Guest
steve
Jan 27, 2013

I was still in the military when we saw the beginning of the increase in suicides. I have had to call and speak with the fiance of a man who killed himself. We know that suicide is often an impulsive act. We also know that the Israelis, when faced with suicide as a problem among their military, decreased its frequency when they stopped letting people take their guns home with them on w/e’s. Gun rights absolutists dont want responsible officers to be able to ask soldiers if they weapons at home. Better we have people die than offend a few by asking them if they have guns at home.

Steve

Guest
Peter1
Jan 27, 2013

Armed guards in schools and classrooms, theaters, sports stadiums, shopping malls, workplaces and everyone armed – literally everywhere. Yes, Afghanistan of the U.S.A., now that’s the definition of a successful country brought to you by the gun industry.

You’re all freaking NUTS!

Guest

Asking people about firearms has been part of the dangerousness assessment in psychiatry since I took the boards over 20 years ago. You would not have passed the oral boards if potential dangerousness was not assessed. People can lie to you but in clinical practice there is also clear evidence that having this discussion, not with the patient but also their family makes a difference. In 22 years of acute inpatient care, I cannot imagine releasing a patient I treated for suicidal or aggressive ideation back home without a high degree of certainty that there were no guns there. The idea that there is something else going on with those discussions than trying to assure patient safety is nonsense.

Guest
Jan 26, 2013

@motomed
If it’s only a “third of the country”, and I thought it was more than that, then the other two thirds ought to make this a “political reality” in a true democracy. I wonder what is stopping the majority of the people from enacting policy…..

Guest
motomed
Jan 26, 2013

fortunately plenty of people recognize that even though they may not be particularly interested in something, that doesn’t mean they should support a government ban on it…. And even if you could mobilize them, we live in a constitutional republic, not a democracy, a fact that was once again pointed out to barack obama last friday by a federal court…. Ask DC and Chicago how their democratically arrived at handgun bans worked out…