Now Pro-Gun Politicians Want to Tell Your Doctor What to Do
“Physicians are interested in [keeping] our patients alive and allowing them to live longer, and part of that has to do with gun violence,” says Dr. William Begg, an emergency room physician in Danbury, Connecticut, who treated victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. Rather than encouraging doctors to tell their patients about the well-documented health risks of owning guns, Begg warns that legislation like Putnam’s “makes it easier for health care providers to remain silent for fear of reprisal.”
In the three months since Newtown, state lawmakers around the country have already introduced nine bills aimed at blocking the sharing of gun information in a medical context, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Unlike the controversial legislation that was introduced in Florida last year, known as “docs vs. Glocks,” Putnam’s law would not mete out financial and licensing penalties if a doctor asks about guns. But a recent report from the American College of Surgeons argues that this kind of legislation nonetheless amounts to a gag order. “It is important that the relationship between a physician and a patient not be compromised,” wrote author Alexis Macias.
Columbia pediatrician Deborah Greenhouse suggested in The State that supporters of such legislation were being hypocritical. “They are trying to get Big Government to come in and dictate what we can and cannot say, while at the same time, they are trying to tell Big Government to stay out of their right to own guns,” said Greenhouse, who is president of the S.C. Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.