Thursday, March 26, 2015
Texas May Ban Doctors From Discussing Guns With Their Patients
Under a proposed bill currently being considered in Texas, doctors wouldn’t be allowed to ask their patients whether there are any firearms in their homes — and could be subject to punishment from the Texas Medical Board if they do initiate any conversations about gun safety in the office.
The lawmaker who’s sponsoring the measure, Rep. Stuart Spitzer (R), is backed by the National Rifle Association and the Texas State Rifle Association. He believes that the federal government is inappropriately reaching into doctors’ offices to figure out who owns guns.
“Pediatricians are asking children away from their parents, ‘Do you have guns in your house?’ and then reporting this on the electronic health records, and then the federal government, frankly, has access to who has guns and who doesn’t,” Spitzer told the Texas Tribune in a recent interview. He added that asking about gun ownership is “not appropriate” in this setting.
But health professionals have long maintained that, as guns threaten to surpass car accidents as the leading cause of deaths among young Americans, it’s important to be able to broach this subject with their patients. About 10,000 kids are killed or injured by guns each year, many in tragic accidents that could have been prevented with more careful storage. Pediatricians want to have the opportunity to talk about how to safely store legal firearms to ensure they’re out of the reach of young children — especially if there are any signs of mental health issues in the home.