As Goldy posted earlier today, the State of Florida has determined that physicians should be imprisoned or fined if they merely ask if a patient owns a gun. (The bill has been somewhat watered down, as it has proceeded to becoming law; it is intact in principle, however.)
Why do physicians ask patients about gun ownership?
1. You have a reasonable chance of shooting yourself:
Between June 1, 1992, to May 31, 1994 about 34,485 accidentally injured themselves non-fatally with a firearm. This averages out to about 18,000 non-fatal injuries a year.
2. If you manage to not shoot yourself, you have a reasonable chance of harming yourself with the gun anyways:
Not counting those who shot themselves, about sixteen-thousand people injury themselves with firearms each year in the United States sufficiently to require a visit to the emergency room. Usually these injuries were the result of the routine handling of firearms, with 43% from recoil.
3. About half of children unintentionally shot are shot in their own homes, with their parents own gun. Another 40% are shot in the house of a friend or relative. To those of you working through the math, 90% of children injured by firearms are injured by a parent, relative or friend's gun.
Four practices, in combination, can dramatically reduce the risk of these children injuring themselves with the household's firearm:
i. Store the gun unloaded.
ii. Store the gun away from the ammo.
iii. Lock up the firearm.
iv. Lock up the ammo.
5. Programs that teach children gun safety—like the NRA Eddie Eagle Gun Safety Program—do not decrease the chance that young children will handle or attempt to fire a handgun they stumble upon.
Any doctor who does not ask about gun ownership during an annual physical, particularly a well-child check, is not practicing up to usual and customary practices—for the exact reason he or she should be asking about smoking, drug use, diet and domestic violence.
I'm becoming very tired of being asked by conservatives to spare their delicate sensibilities from reality. It's not enough to have (essentially) unrestricted gun ownership in the country. No, conservatives cannot even allow medical professionals to cite scientific evidence.
Just like conservatives whimper about data demonstrating climate change, evolution, environmental harm from fracking, peak oil, and on and on and on.
Wouldn't it be pleasant if—instead of expecting the rest of us to swallow their bullshit with grins on our faces, to spare their sensitive feelings—conservatives simply stated what they want, damn the concequences: Unfettered access to firearms, despite the proven dangers. Profligate burning of fossil fuels, despite mounting evidence of limited supplies and environmental disaster. Adherence to origin myths, despite crippling biology education. At least spare us the bullshit.