I’ve been pretty down on the American Medical Association and anti-gun doctors for a while. Honestly, it’s taken a concerted effort on my part to remember that not all doctors support this kind of nonsense. After all, the anti-gun doctors get the headlines while groups like Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership barely get mentioned.
I respect doctors. I count several as friends and who do I go see if I feel bad? That’s right, a doctor.
Doctors are a vital part of our society.
Now, the mayor of Boston wants to force them to ask whether or not you have a gun in your home.
A glimpse of your upcoming doctor visit:
As you grimace uncomfortably during the prostate exam, your doctor casually asks, “Oh, by the way — do you own a gun?
How many? Is there one in your house?” Startled, you jump (big mistake) and say, “Why are you asking me that?”
“Oh, I have to,” the doctor says as she takes one last pass over your prostate. “It’s mandated by law.”
That, my friends, is the future Mayor Marty Walsh envisions, not just for Boston, but for the entire state of Massachusetts.
Mayor Walsh’s legislative agenda for the city includes a bill that would require medical professionals to ask patients about guns in the home, and bring up the topics of gun safety. Not “suggest” doctors do it, or “allow” it. Require it.
One Massachusetts official who’s all for doctors grilling their patients over guns is Attorney General Maura Healey. In 2016, she launched a partnership with the Massachusetts Medical Society to encourage doctors to do just that.
However, even Healey is unwilling to support Mayor Marty’s mandate thuggery. “The AG believes medical providers should have the tools and training to ask such questions, when appropriate,” was as far as her spokesperson was willing to go.
Another element that’s entirely missing from this conversation is the issue of free speech — or in this case, compelled speech. There are plenty of doctors who have no interest in talking about gun ownership with their patients or see no need to. What about their free-speech rights?
Columnist Michael Graham goes on to remind folks that when Florida passed a bill that forbade doctors from talking to their patients about guns, the Boston Globe jumped up and down, screaming about the physicians free speech rights.
Free speech is a double-edged sword. If I’m free to say things, then I’m also free not to say things. Granted, the latter is a right my wife probably wished I’d exercise a lot more often, but that’s beside the point.
Compelling a physician to ask about a firearm, particularly when there’s no legitimate reason to do so, is compelled speech. That’s a violation of the doctor’s freedom of speech.
Now, couple that with the fact that whether or not I have a firearm is irrelevant in the majority of cases for why one might see a doctor, and you understand why this is such a head-scratcher. I mean, I get that Walsh is an anti-gun Democrat who doesn’t want anyone to have a firearm, but wow.
What makes them think people will answer honestly? If my doctor has to ask and has to record the information I give, then I can see a lot of people saying, “Oh no, no firearms for me.”
You know, kind of like how they lie about cutting out saturated fats and exercising more when their doctors ask them about that.
At least those questions are relevant to people’s health. Whether or not I own a gun, isn’t.