After complaints from gun owners in Florida this summer about doctors asking if they had guns, State Rep. Jason Brodeur has proposed a bill that will have doctors fined up to $5 million or put in jail for up to five years if they ask their patients if they own any guns.
Although passing this bill will protect our Second Amendment rights to bear arms by preventing the information from getting to the government or to a patient’s insurance, it interferes with the doctors’ First Amendment rights of freedom of speech. The Florida Medical Association disagrees with the bill for this reason: they believe that the government has no right telling physicians what they can and can’t do. By not allowing doctors to ask the questions they need to, it will prevent them from providing their patients with proper safety. For instance, if a doctor cannot access information about guns in a child’s home, he cannot inform the parents of gun safety. This bill will also prevent the protection of other citizens.
If a mentally unstable person had a gun, wouldn’t you want his doctor to ask him about it and make the necessary precautions to protect others and themselves? The doctor should be responsible for determining whether the patient is stable enough to own a gun or not. However, if the bill is passed, people fear that the government will take away their guns. “If guns are criminal, only criminals will have guns, and law abiding gun owners and their families will be less safe,” Brodeur said. If this bill is passed, it would possibly allow another shooting like the one in Arizona. The bill will prevent a doctor from ever asking a patient in the first place whether they have a gun, and therefore it cannot be determined if educating the patient about how to store their gun if necessary.
One thousand two hundred twenty-nine children age 10 to 14 died of unintentional injuries in 2007; 26 deaths were gun-related. If a doctor can’t ask the patient if he or she has a gun, the children’s health and safety is at risk. Firearms are the seventh leading cause of unintentional injuries. Doctors need to be able to prepare their patients to become responsible parents and teach them the correct way to store their guns. The bill should not be passed.
American doctors have the right and responsibility to ask their patients whether or not they have firearms without being punished. The doctor asks to protect the people, not for any personal benefit. The bill is a violation of the doctors’ First Amendment rights, and will potentially put citizens, including children, in danger. Brodeur’s main intentions for passing this bill is to keep the National Rifle Association happy, because they are his biggest lobbyist. Americans should fight this bill, for everyone’s rights and protection.