From watching the news coverage of this controversial topic, you would tentatively come to the conclusion that everyone in the medical profession thinks that a person’s primary physician should be able to ask probing questions about his patients’ gun ownership details. And as recent Florida court decisions have concluded, doctors may have the right – if not the duty – to inquire as to how their patients interact with guns.
But not all medical professionals agree.
Now, the Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership – a coalition of healthcare specialists who support the Second Amendment – are launching an initiative aimed at giving law-abiding gun owners a resource with which they can choose a physician who will…mind his own business.
In a press release, DRGO project director Dr. Arthur Przebinda said, “Medicine has an institutional bias against guns. Patients should be able to obtain healthcare services from providers who respect their rights. We are recruiting providers of all kinds. We hope soon to start connecting patients and providers.”
Florida courts recently struck down some of the integral provisions of a state law prohibiting physicians from asking their patients about their gun ownership. Residents there and around the country are increasingly concerned about the evaporating state of privacy, especially as it pertains to medical visits and the Second Amendment. Will doctors report gun ownership to the insurance companies, eventually giving those companies an excuse to raise premiums? Will they catalog your ownership, creating an “off the books” gun registry that could eventually be subpoenaed by the federal government?
Even if those dark scenarios don’t come to pass, plenty of gun owners simply don’t feel like hearing a lecture from their doctor about exercising a constitutionally-protected right. Despite what some national healthcare groups might insinuate, there is absolutely nothing in a doctor’s educational background to make him an authority on firearms safety, to say nothing of your constitutional rights. By allowing doctors to inquire aggressively about a patient’s gun ownership, we are at risk of violating the bonds of trust between doctor and patient, which could have healthcare consequences that go well beyond a gun in the home.
Whether or not you have access to a DRGO doctor who is committed to avoiding uncomfortable and unnecessary questions about your gun ownership, you certainly have the right to refuse to answer those questions. And if the doctor doesn’t like it, tough. As the consumer in this equation, you have the power. And you certainly don’t have any legal duty to divulge information about your gun ownership to your family physician.