What do you say when your child’s pediatrician asks if there are guns in your home? If it hasn’t happened to you yet, be ready. As our government gets more and more intrusive into our lives, it’s important that you are prepared to answer.
According to an article by Dr. Susan Berry, more and more physicians are being urged to question patients about gun ownership while taking health histories during regular office visits. Dr. Eric Fleegler of Boston Children’s Hospital, a member of a “gun violence” panel and one of the lead supporters of this line of questioning, claims that research published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Practice shows that “patient counseling in the doctor’s office about proper firearms storage [is] more likely to lead to a safe change in gun storage.”
Fleegler believes that doctors should play a primary role in reducing children’s access to guns, and he also supports increased firearms legislation, including laws related to safe storage, trigger locks, and criminal background checks for all gun purchases. “It’s insane that firearms are not regulated, considering the number of people who are maimed and killed by guns,” Fleegler told Medscape. “Teddy bears are regulated.”
For many supporters of the Second Amendment, Fleegler’s wishes sound like another slippery slope…an additional annoyance that will slowly but surely lead to the restriction or the eradication of our right to bear arms. The problem is: Dr. Fleegler is not alone. In fact, as Berry’s article states, The American Academy of Pediatrics endorses gun control. “Its official position on firearms asserts that the absence of firearms in homes and communities is ‘the most effective measure to prevent suicide, homicide, and unintentional firearms-related injuries.’” And Dr. Fleegler is just one of countless physicians who are now including gun-ownership questions in their patient interactions.
I’m sure we will all encounter this invasion of privacy at some point. And I’ve been thinking about how I will reply if this occurs at my children’s pediatrician’s office. Silence? Lie? Truth? I asked some other parents about their thoughts. Here are some of the responses I’ve heard thus far.
- “I just say ‘No’ and move on to the next question.”
- I answer truthfully, but simply: “They are safely stored and are kept out of reach.”
- “If it is asked on the paperwork, I just skip the question. If it is asked in person, I ask how that impacts my doctor’s visit. I have only been to one doctor who asked: ‘Is there anything in your home that makes you uncomfortable?’ My answer was ‘cooking.’”
- “My son’s doctor asked him this question last year when he was 6 years old. I had not previously discussed this issue with him, so I waited for his response. He told me he responded with, ‘No, there are no guns in my house.’ When I asked him why he lied, he said, ‘Guns are like privates; we don’t talk about them!’”
- “When I went to an optometrist last year, I was asked, and I stated that it was none of their business. They also asked race and religion. I asked what that had to do with my eyes, and they said if they wanted to be able to stay in business accepting Obamacare, they had to submit the answers to these questions.”
- “I am law abiding, and I am not giving out that kind of information.”
- I told them: “Yes; and we practice safe gun ownership. The kids have been taught that guns are not toys. No negotiations!”
- “As a nurse, we ask questions like that as a safety measure, not a judgment call; it’s a way to see if the parents are mindful and take safety precautions…like seat belts.”
- “It is no one’s business. The government already knows we have guns or should assume we do since we have concealed carry permits.”
- “My children are never left alone with any medical professional for any reason anyway. And if the doctor directs the question at my child, I answer.”
- “Check your state’s statutes. They are not supposed to ask that in many areas.”
- “I would just tell them, ‘I’m here for my kid’s health, not my private constitutional rights.”
- “The doctors aren’t asking for their own personal reasons. They ask because of the funding their facility may receive from the government.”
- “My kids know not to disclose that information to anyone because it’s none of their business. Even questionnaires in the schools that utilize Common Core have very intrusive questions. You just need to train your kids what is/is not acceptable.”
- “I am a medical professional. You DO NOT have to answer that question. It’s just another way for the government to weasel in.”
- “I don’t answer the question. I tell them that this is not within the scope of their practice.”
These thoughts and answers are definitely something to consider. But whatever you decide to do if the question comes up at your doctor’s office, remember that your answers can be like breadcrumbs that never disappear. I’m not saying that anyone should be dishonest, but I do believe that a little sleight of hand may be in order during these times.