I have mixed feelings about the NRA-backed bill that prevents doctors from asking about gun ownership, because I believe that the government should never have the power to control speech in that kind of manner.
I realized that many professions are regulated in these kinds of terms, but I’m not sure that all bad advice ought to be illegal advice, and I’m not sure why we can’t protect our privacy with a polite “Mind your own business, doc.” But apparently the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals disagrees with me, and delivered NRA a win in the case.
In the ruling, the three judge panel ruled: “In keeping with these traditional codes of conductâ€”which almost universally mandate respect for patient privacyâ€”the Act simply acknowledges that the practice of good medicine does not require interrogation about irrelevant, private matters. As such, we find that the Act is a legitimate regulation of professional conduct. The Act simply codifies that good medical care does not require inquiry or record-keeping regarding firearms when unnecessary to a patientâ€™s care.”
On the other side of the coin, the medical profession has politicized itself far and beyond what I think is appropriate, and this is a greatly needed shot across the bow at the AMA and the AAP. They would be wise to issue new guidelines to doctors telling them to learn to mind their own business when it comes to topics that have nothing to do with the practice of medicine, like gun ownership.
I am loathe to punish pediatricians who want to talk to parents about guns in the context of other dangerous household articles, or to punish a doctor who talks to a patient about guns because the doctor and patient are both gun enthusiasts. The latter is in my opinion pretty unambiguously free speech.
But doctors have abused their position to promote a political agenda, and this is what they have reaped by doing so. NRA has more weight to throw around Congress and State Capitols than the medical establishment does, and they would do well to remain cognizant of that fact.