Two-thirds of Americans okay with docs talking guns

Two-thirds of Americans are okay with doctors discussing guns, according to a new survey published by The Annals of Internal Medicine.

The online survey asked Americans whether it’s appropriate for healthcare professionals to talk to their patients about guns. Sixty-six percent of the over 3,900 respondents indicated that it’s at least sometimes appropriate for docs to talk guns. In contrast, 34 percent indicated the topic of guns should never be broached with patients.

As part of the survey, participants were asked to indicate whether they were gun owners. Of those that admitted to having guns in the home, half stated firearm discussions with  doctors were okay.

The Joyce Foundation, an organization that loudly speaks out against gun violence and in favor of more gun laws, funded the survey.

Doctors and 2A supporters have repeatedly clashed over this topic, most notably in Wollschlaeger v. Governor of the State of Florida. Commonly known as “Docs vs Glocks,” a Florida lawsuit spawned the 2011 Firearm Owners’ Privacy Act. The act prevented health care workers from discussing gun ownership or safety practices with patients.

After the passing of FOPA, there doctors banded together to sue the state of Florida. The doctors were joined by the Florida Pediatric Society, Florida Academy of Family Physicians, the Brady Campaign and the American Civil Liberties Union who aimed to overturn the act.

Dr. Louis St. Petery, one of the doctors opposed to FOPA, insisted that healthcare providers should be able to ask basic questions about gun ownership especially when children are present in the home.

“What we are after is to protect that kid and be sure that the kid doesn’t get killed or injured inappropriately because the firearm that is in the home is not properly stored,” St. Petery said in an interview with the Orlando Weekly.

The doctors’ case has been heard three times by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of appeals who, until recently, has ruled against it. In a surprising about-face, the appellate court agreed to rehear the case in front of a full court.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office, which represents the state in the case, condemned the appeal, saying the docs have no legal legs on which to stand.

“The act represents the most modest of all professional regulations — a requirement that doctors stick to practicing medicine — and it accomplishes its compelling goals without interfering with doctors’ professional judgment or otherwise burdening more speech than necessary,” Bondi said a brief.

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