Bad Medicine: Docs Back Bill To Screen Patients For Gun Ownership

A bill that would require health care professionals to screen patients about gun ownership, with “safety counseling” mandated for those who test positive, so to speak, was heard before a legislative committee in Massachusetts on Tuesday. Jim Wallace of the Gun Owners Action League was in attendance, and joins me on today’s Bearing Arms Cam & Co. to talk about the ludicrous proposal and the support it received from several doctors during the hearing. From WGBH in Boston:

The legislation (H 2005), filed by medical doctor and Boston Rep. Jon Santiago, does not outline specifics for how the new screening program would work. It simply directs the state public health commissioner to create a program for firearm screening and counseling, leaving how and how often patients would be asked to be determined after consultation with a range of stakeholders.

The bill also calls for creation of “guidelines for safety counseling for individuals that screen positive for the presence of firearms in the home” without defining how those would look or how the counseling would be offered.

“Armed with that guidance, doctors can then feel confident having these important conversations with their patients,” said Dr. Jennifer Lo, medical director of the Boston Public Health Commission.

In other words, doctors have no idea how to talk to their patients about gun ownership, so they need to be provided with a script.

How about instead, doctors don’t treat gun ownership as a problem that needs to be addressed by them in the first place?

I see several issues with this bill, starting with the fact that many gun owners are going to tell their health care providers that it’s none of their business whether or not they own firearms. As several women from the DC Project testified on Tuesday, treating gun ownership as a health concern is simply going to result in many gun owners feeling less confident in the doctor-patient relationship.

Supporters of the bill also couldn’t say how any data collected by health care workers would be stored, which opens up all kinds of privacy issues. At best this is a misguided measure with good intentions, but I have to say, I don’t really believe that’s the case.

This smacks of nanny statism, as well as a worldview that sees gun ownership as something to be eliminated instead of a right to be protected. Make sure you check out the entire interview with Jim Wallace, as he gets into his own testimony and the questions he asked of lawmakers (most of which went unanswered).

Also on today’s show we’ve got a report from the Prince William County board of supervisors meeting from a viewer who was in attendance for most of the hours-long meeting, as well as today’s armed citizen story, a criminal justice fail, and our good deed of the day.

A reminder that this Friday I’ll be dedicating the entire show to your emails, so feel free to send me questions or comments to [email protected]

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