Gun Owners of America stress pro-gun changes to American Healthcare Act

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) released the Republican replacement for Obamacare on March 6, 2017. (Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) released the Republican replacement for Obamacare on March 6, 2017. (Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

Gun Owners of America wants congressional Republicans to strip provisions related to gun ownership from the Obamacare replacement bill scheduled for a vote Thursday in the House.

The group says the American Healthcare Act, sponsored by House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, retains Affordable Care Act provisions allowing the federal government to use medical records as a basis of denial for firearm ownership, thus serving as de facto gun control.

“The bill needs to be amended to prohibit the ATF from trolling the national health database, or Medicaid, or any new entitlement program for persons with PTSD, Alzheimer’s, ADHD, or merely ‘anxiety,’” said Michael Hammond, legislative counsel for GOA, in an alert published Monday. “The Obama administration did that with Social Security, for the specific purpose of imposing a lifetime gun ban on millions of Americans. As it is, ‘Son of ObamaCare’ opens that possibility again — on a grand scale.”

Hammond recommended two other changes to the bill: an amendment barring insurance companies from asking about gun ownership and basing coverage on the answer, and an amendment ensuring doctors won’t — or legally can’t — ask about gun ownership and enter that information into a federal database.

“ObamaCare has given the federal government the ability to use (and abuse) medical data as a pretext for keeping law-abiding gun owners from possessing firearms — just as the feds have already done to more than 257,000 military veterans,” he said. “Unfortunately, Paul Ryan’s ‘Son of ObamaCare’ does not eliminate GOA’s concerns.”

Dr. Robert Young, executive editor for Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership, says the group “certainly agrees” with GOA’s concerns, but doesn’t take a position on the legislation in general.

“DRGO has always been against a requirement for the documentation of gun ownership in medical records,” he said in an interview with Guns.com Thursday. “We are also against gun ownership even being documented in medical records optionally, unless there is immediate clinical concern about safety on which that might bear. That can include concern about imminent risk or harm to oneself or someone else, in which case it must be addressed, period.”

Young said the perception of the medical community as staunchly anti-gun comes from “a political element” unrepresentative of “rank and file physicians.”

“They either don’t want anything to do with dealing with it with patients … or they themselves are gun owners,” he said, noting that a vast majority have no personal experience with firearms and therefore have no business advising patients on what do, or not do, with them.

A federal appeals court last month struck down a Florida law barring physicians from advising patients about guns and gun ownership in a lawsuit brought by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

The center argued the law — which could fine doctors or revoke their license for breaking it — infringed on First Amendment rights. The United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit agreed, deeming the law unconstitutional in a Feb. 16 ruling.

“This decision is a sharp rebuke for the NRA leadership, which has long sought to suppress research funding, data and speech – and in this case, to gag doctors by barring them from discussing gun safety with their patients,” said Everytown President John Feinblatt in a press release last month. “It is now plainly clear: Physicians do not leave their free speech rights at the clinic door.”