When Doctors Ask About Guns

BY Herschel Smith
8 years, 4 months ago

According to one doctor, this becomes something more than you and your children.  Listen carefully.

In the middle of a routine well-child visit, my 4-year-old patient started creating a ruckus in the exam room. Johnny systematically opened all the cabinets, pulled out any loose bits of paper he could find, and tore them up. He then got on the exam table, picked up my expensive ophthalmoscope, and almost took a dive to the floor before his dad stopped him.

Knowing that unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death among children, I used this opportunity to educate Johnny’s parents about safety at home.

Do you have your medicine cabinet locked? Are detergent bottles kept in the top shelf? Do you have working fire alarms? Do you have guns in your home?

While a routine part of well-child checkups, that last question has come under scrutiny lately. Why do I ask?

The data are clear: Gun violence is a public-health threat to children.

Now, it occurs to me that gun owners must consider what they might say when asked by their doctor about guns.  I could say something like the following.

“Well doctor, I’ll answer your questions about guns, but first you must give me verbal and written agreement that you’ll also respond to my questionnaire, and that I can publish the data (if you refuse to answer any specific question the answer reverts to the default answer in the data bank).  I have a web site with a page rank of 5, and after I publish your name and the Q&A session, I’ll own the Google search results on your name within 20 minutes of the page being indexed.  Yes I own guns.  Now for your questions.  First, do you still sexually abuse your wife?”

But I don’t have to do that.  I am good friends with my doctor, and I would respond (I’ll assume that his name is Michael), “Why yes, Michael, you know that I do.  You’ve been shooting with me before.  Why would you ask me?  How much pressure is the new Obamacare paperwork putting on you, and how late do you stay up doing it?  Is there something you need to tell me?  Why are you being forgetful like this?”

But take note of the reasons for the doctor’s questions.  Guns are a “public health concern.”  Doctors have been trained to treat “social ills” for the collective.  This mentality is alive and well among the totalitarians in the most recent attempt to encroach on firearms and related information.

Experts laid out a broad plan for firearms research on Wednesday, saying data is needed on who owns guns, where they keep them, how likely a gun is to be used to hurt someone else, whether having a gun keeps you safer, and whether there are ways to make guns any safer.

“There is no question that this is a public health issue,” says Dr. Alan Leshner, who chaired the Institute of Medicine panel that issued the report. “We have no political agenda.”

[ … ]

“Basic information about gun possession, acquisition, and storage is lacking. No single database captures the total number, locations, and types of firearms and firearm owners in the United States,” the report notes.

This work was commissioned by the totalitarian in chief, Mr. Obama himself.  And of course they’re “experts.”  And of course they want more information.  And of course they want to know everything about all people who own firearms.  And of course they intend to push so-called smart guns.

And if Mr. Obama cannot get the Senate to pass his gun legislation, maybe he can convince everyone that guns are a public health concern worthy of engagement by physicians who need to know everything about you and your guns.  This is the argument du jour.

It’s just totalitarianism masquerading as public health, and there is no doubt that state universities all over America teach it to doctors and in MPH courses.  There is nothing new under the sun.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks


  1. On June 6, 2013 at 1:49 am, Bill said:

    …saying data is needed on…

    No, it isn’t.

  2. On June 6, 2013 at 6:25 am, Roger J said:

    I am an avid shooter and soon to have a MSPH degree. I’ve had no indoctrination/exposure to antigun crap in over 2 years of classes, aside from one snide comment from a professor of epidemiology who was trying to be “funny.” But I don’t go to the Johns Hopkins BLOOMBERG School of Public Health which is the epicenter of the antigun “public health” movement. There are only a few people who are churning out questionable studies through manipulating data, but they are vocal (keeps the $ coming in) and get lots of attention from compliant media and agenda-driven politicians. Most of us PH people are concerned with infectious diseases such as SARS and environmental toxins, like arsenic in drinking water.

  3. On June 6, 2013 at 8:32 am, Gene said:

    Hersh, your scenario creates an unacceptable straw man that muddies the waters of gun control. Any provider observing the actions of a child like described who doesn’t ask the question is incompetent. This question may just be the wake up call to a clueless gun owner that saves their child’s life.

    The provider who ROUTINELY asks the question for no reason deserves the scorn of gun owners. The proper response would be to present your questionnaire or to inform them what you think of their question. Then if you get the typical condescending attitude from the provider, it’s time to shop for a new doctor.

  4. On June 6, 2013 at 8:47 am, Herschel Smith said:

    Using that logic, doctors should start counseling people on how to walk up and down stairs, away from purchasing homes with stairs, and how fast to drive automobiles.

    Or … doctors could focus on diseases and, you know, health issues.

    Followup: ” … the child described.” What’s that supposed to mean? Do you have children? Are any of them boys? I raised three of them. They all behave that way.

  5. On June 6, 2013 at 8:53 am, Jack Christopher said:

    Doctors asking about guns can be done in several ways.

    As a confrontational question: “Do you have guns in your house?”

    Or as educational: “Do you keep all dangerous items like cleaning fluid, medicine and firearms safely locked up?”

    So what is it they REALLY want to know?

  6. On June 6, 2013 at 8:58 am, David said:

    You sir are incorrect. It is not now or ever been a Doctors concern what I have in my house. I will raise my children without any interference from the illegitimate gov. we now have (and even if it was legitimate).This is not ridiculous episode of “House”.

  7. On June 6, 2013 at 9:35 am, GoneWithTheWind said:

    Wouldn’t the doctor be required to first inform you of your Miranda rights?

  8. On June 6, 2013 at 9:50 am, Gary Griffiths said:

    Jack Christopher’s comment, “Or as educational: ‘Do you keep all dangerous items like cleaning fluid, medicine and firearms safely locked up?’” seems the best way to accomplish the intended purpose, to encourage the parent to think about safe storage of dangerous items, without being confrontational. This is how doctor/patient dialogue should go if doctors are trying to encourage safe storage of dangerous items rather than discourage firearms ownership.

  9. On June 6, 2013 at 9:55 am, SDH said:

    I would say, “Doc, I take all appropriate steps to safeguard the well-being of my son”. Repeated as often as is necessary.

  10. On June 6, 2013 at 3:07 pm, GunRights4US said:

    When a doctor asks such a question, it’s time to find a new doctor.

    I reject the notion that I need medical professionals to school me on how to handle firearms. I reject the whole concept that I need a Nanny to hold my hand when I take a piss!

    There might be some folks out there for whom the “Do not use internally” label on a jug of bleach is really necessary. I do not number myself among them.

  11. On June 7, 2013 at 4:56 am, DAN III said:

    Folks….the physician gun question is simple. It is all about control and in turn, tyranny.

  12. On June 7, 2013 at 7:40 am, Mark Matis said:

    Well said, Dan III.

  13. On June 7, 2013 at 8:15 am, scory said:

    When I search the number of deaths caused by the health care industry each year in the U.S. the numbers are very large – anywhere from 90,000 to 200,000. And this doesn’t include the number of people injured or crippled by medical incompetence. It seems to me it would be wise for patients to be asking their doctor to provide a list of malpractice suits that he has had to defend along with a similar list for each hospital he uses. You are far more likely to be killed or injured by health care professionals then you are to be shot.

  14. On June 8, 2013 at 2:51 pm, Mannie said:

    Last time I went to my physician, I was treated to a questionnaire about my mental health. If was a page of questions about whether I had, “Little interest or pleasure in doing things,” “Feeling bad about yourself . . . ” “Thoughts that you would be better off dead . . .”

    Needless to say, I checked “Not at all” for each question.

    Required by Big Brother who has access to our med records now.

    You can’t trust your physician any more. I’m even reluctant to step on the scale.

  15. On June 8, 2013 at 9:48 pm, Bill Quick said:

    And if Mr. Obama cannot get the Senate to pass his gun legislation, maybe he can convince everyone that guns are a public health concern worthy of engagement by physicians who need to know everything about you and your guns. This is the argument du jour.

    Of course. It worked for tobacco and second hand smoke, didn’t it?

  16. On June 10, 2013 at 1:17 pm, Landru said:

    Why bother with this “public health threat” charade, totalitarians? Why not declare guns to be comparable to say, the Ebola virus, declare an epidemic, and annonce that you are implementing Plan Y, authorized by Congress in 1974 to contain such an event. Step A, DHS agents are authorized to enter every home to determine if anyone is “infected”. Those who are will be taken away and “quarantined”, with the agent of the infection then destroyed.

  17. On June 27, 2013 at 6:44 pm, Ruby said:

    My doctor doesn’t ask such questions. But if he did I would either say, “I decline to answer” or “I am satisfied with the safety of my child’s home environment.”

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This article is filed under the category(s) Guns and was published June 5th, 2013 by Herschel Smith.

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