Have you heard about the Florida Rep. Jason Brodeur who has proposed legislation to block doctors from asking about guns in the home or face a fine up to $5 million or be sent to prison for up to 5 years? He says he has “heard about a number of cases in which doctors asked about guns” and thinks the topic should be off limits. His concern is that this is a privacy right and that the information could fall into the hands of the government or insurance companies.
From this pediatrician’s perspective, it’s just crazy and a waste of time, money, and energy. Is there really nothing more important for legislators to do given our country’s current financial state?
The question about guns in the house is one that I do ask families during well visits. The reason is not to make any judgment, but to assess risk and make sure that proper storage is occurring. Just a few weeks ago at our south region pediatric department meeting we discussed proper storage of firearms to get on the same page as a group.
Do you want your child playing in a friend’s home where there are unlocked firearms and access to ammunition? I think most of us make an assumption that things are safe, but is that always valid? I am all for people having choice and the right to have firearms, but only if there is a safe and proper way to store them. I have many fond childhood memories of shooting rifles as a child and learning gun safety from my father and at Boy Scout camp that has taught me a healthy respect for them. I feel very comfortable when my children go over to the home of a friend who owns guns because I’ve asked the question. I feel assured that the guns are locked away in the gun safe, making it impossible for any of the children to access them.
The American Academy of Pediatrics states the following:
- A gun kept in the home is 43 times more likely to kill someone known to the family than to kill someone in self-defense.
- A gun kept in the home triples the risk of homicide.
- The risk of suicide is 5 times more likely if a gun is kept in the home.
If a gun is going to be kept in the home:
- Always keep the gun unloaded and locked up.
- Lock and store the bullets in a separate place.
- Make sure to hide the keys to the locked boxes.