Why Not Offer a 'Third Way' to
Let Doctors Ask About Guns?



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By David Codrea, August 1st 2014
JPFO writer contributor, © 2014.

"Pediatricians Have the Right to Ask About Guns," Russell Saunders, a "pseudonym for a pediatrician in New England [who] writes about medicine, gay rights issues and popular culture" asserts in his latest offering to...uh...at The Daily Beast.

"A Florida law will prevent doctors from advising their patients on gun safety, even though research shows physician counsel on the matter keeps kids safer," he insists.

Noting that "asking" is quite a different matter from "advising," the glaring lack of a link to the aforementioned "research," so we can see for ourselves who is behind it, what their methodologies and scope of inquiry were, who peer-reviewed it, and if they have any obvious agendas and conflicts of interest that might color their findings, is obvious. That last part's not unheard of, you know.

"When I ask parents if there are firearms in the home, and if so how they are secured, it is for the sole purpose of keeping their children safe," Dr. "Saunders" complains, linking readers to "a statement expressing dismay at the court's benighted decision" by the American Academy of Pediatrics (of which I am a member)."

"Research has shown that physician counseling about gun locks and safe storage, tailored to a child's specific age and development, increases the likelihood a family will take the steps to store their firearms safely," the AAP declares authoritatively. Dang if they aren't missing a citation to the specific "research" as well.

Ah well. It's not like "progressive science" for the benefit of furthering government controls isn't dependent on "faith-based initiatives" anyway, as long as we're willing to climb over, tunnel under or break through that "wall of separation" whenever the doctrine of state worship can be advanced.

"We are concerned about a chilling effect on the speech of our physicians, and that their First Amendment rights are being trampled," Dr. Mobeen Rathore, High Priest ... no, make that President of the Florida chapter of the AAP complained. "Who is in a better position to determine what is relevant to a patient's care? The government or the physician? This puts the government in the exam room."

In case you haven't noticed, doc, they're already there. And when asked on what Constitutional grounds, just like we ask where they get authority to infringe on the right of the people to keep and bear arms, your fellow gun-grabber and Speaker at the time responded with a contemptuous "Are you serious?"

As for who is in a better position, when it comes to matters of gun safety, we'll get to that in a bit.

But let's examine your complaint about the trampling of your First Amendment rights. I can't help but notice you and "Saunders" are free to lay out your case for all the world to see, and no one is stopping you or closing down your websites, or keeping The Beast and other "legitimate news media" outlets from giving you essentially free ad space masked as cutting-edge "journalism."

This has strictly to do with matters of professional conduct regulated via a state licensing apparatus that you have no problem with when someone else's ox is getting gored, say, those who can document the trampling of Second Amendment-recognized rights. Would you say a lawyer who discloses attorney-client privileged information is having his First Amendment-protected speech abridged? Should doctors, who are looked upon as authoritative experts on medical matters, be able to freely make non-medical diagnoses and issue non-medical prescriptions? As such, this falls under what Timothy Wheeler, MD comprehensively demonstrated is a boundary violation, that is, unethical physician conduct.

"The AAP, ACP, and AMA are members of the Handgun Epidemic Lowering Plan (HELP) Network, based in Chicago. HELP is an exclusive advocacy group dedicated to banning guns.," Wheeler explained. "Physicians who disagree with HELP's anti-gun agenda are barred from attending HELP's conferences, a policy unthinkable in any scientific organization. HELP's founder and leader Dr. Katherine Christoffel has compared guns to viruses that must be eradicated.

"[T]he AAP has adopted its 'gun safety instruction' patient materials from the gun-ban lobby Handgun Control, Inc. (HCI). The AAP and Handgun Control, Inc.'s informational wing the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence advise families in their STOP pamphlet, 'The safest thing is to not have a gun in your home, especially not a handgun.'" Wheeler continued. "And any doctor should know that patient counseling based on these materials is politics, not medicine."

There's plenty of evidence as to the life-protecting benefits of guns in private hands, and looking only at abuse while ignoring those hardly seems good science, making it fair to question whether Dr. "Saunders" & Co. dispensing advice really does fulfill his stated "sole purpose of keeping ... children safe."

How does he know anyone following his "advice" by not owning guns, or if they do, by locking them up separately from ammunition (and thus useless in a defense situation), won't be setting their kids up for more pitchfork child murders, or keeping a responsible and trained child from defending herself against a home intruder? Just what are "Saunders'" qualifications anyway? Just because he's highly educated, trained and experienced in one field hardly makes him a subject matter expert in all.

Perhaps that's where we can establish a "third way" between those like the AAP, who want to be able to give everyone a Mr. Mackey "Guns are bad, m'kay?" lecture, and Dr. Wheeler, who takes a hard line against agenda-driven boundary violations. "Progressives" love "third way" proposals, if nothing else to get people's guard down on matters of principle and let the camel slip its nose under the tent, so if they're to be consistent, they ought to love this idea.

I know that's a big "if." But perhaps we can at least establish that they're being inconsistent (yet again).

Some years back, working with the late Joe Horn, a retired Los Angeles Sheriff's Deputy and risk management consultant, I developed a "Physician Qualification and Liability Form" based on his essay "Don't Borrow Trouble" and it's follow-on, Part II. While it may be too late at present for Florida, at least until the expected appeal is resolved, how about if physicians who wish to ask and advise on guns do a little something for their patients first, as a way of establishing their expert qualifications, indemnifying against bad advice, and heading off boundary violation complaints?

How about if the doctors fill out our form and warrant they have reviewed applicable scientific literature pertaining to defensive gun use and beneficial results of private firearms ownership, or alternatively, are knowingly engaging in home/firearms safety counseling without certification, license or formal training in risk management, and that they have not reviewed applicable scientific literature pertaining to defensive gun use and beneficial results of private firearms ownership?

How about the advising physicians then disclose if they are engaged in an activity for which they are not certified, such as Firearms Safety Counseling, and if their medical malpractice insurance carrier will cover lawsuits resulting from neglect and lack of qualification?

And how about if the gun quacks further attest that, should a patient follow firearm safety counseling and remove from the home and/or disable firearms with trigger locks or other mechanisms, and if the patient or a family member, friend or visitor is subsequently injured or killed as a result of said removal or disabling, their malpractice insurance and/or personal assets will cover all actual and punitive damages resulting from a lawsuit initiated by the patient, the patient's legal representative, or the patient's survivors?

Think they'll go for this "third way"? Why not print out the form and present it to any doctor asking you about guns and see?

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David Codrea is a field editor at GUNS Magazine, penning their monthly "Rights Watch" column. He provides regular reporting and commentary at Gun Rights Examiner and blogs at The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance. David Codrea's Archive page.

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