Then she paused and said, "this next question is, um, awkward but I have to ask...is there a gun in your home?" [Note: she didn't say that answering this question was voluntary]
I was taken aback and sputtered out a defiant 'no.' Then immediately regretted it. In my rush to deflect any negative stereotyping I didn't stop to consider the sociopolitical and legal implications of this line of questioning. [If you think there are no hidden biases in healthcare, education and law enforcement, hold that thought until the next paragraph]
|By U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Courtney Richardson [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons|
But I digress.
Hubby and I did some snooping and found the origins of this new question. According to snopes.com" On January 16, 2013 President Obama announced a list of 23 executive actions intended to address the issue of gun violence in the U.S., one of which is to "clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors from asking patients about guns in the home." Nothing in the actions instruct doctors to ask patients either.
So it's not a law, it's a policy. One that seems to be loosely interpreted, adopted and applied by states in anticipation of Obamacare. It started in 2011 when Florida passed a preemptive law that barred doctors from asking about gun ownership except in specific cases such as if a patient was severely depressed or experiencing violence in the home. A federal judge stepped in and issued a permanent injunction on its enforcement and the state/NRA has been battling the medical community since.
I am pro gun control. Heck, I would love to travel back in time and prevent guns from ever being invented. But something about this gun ownership question rubs me the wrong way in its political charge. I understand physicians have a mandate to discuss hazards in the home with parents to ensure the safety of children. In light of statistics that show gun-related deaths among youth remain unacceptably high coupled with recent high-profile shootings of children it seems reasonable that firearms in the home would warrant scrutiny. But let's take a step back.
Are shootings among the top causes of accidental deaths in kids? According to this article, the leading causes of death from unintentional injury are: falls, poisoning, fires/burns, choking, and drowning. The pediatrician did not ask me if I used baby gates to block stairs. She did not ask me if I kept medication, household cleaners and other toxic chemicals secure. She did not ask me if I owned a fire extinguisher (although she did ask about smoke alarms and Carbon monoxide detectors). She did not ask if I knew the Heimlich and CPR.
My concern is that focus is shifting away from the major culprits of accidental deaths in kids in the interest of pacifying people like me who want gun control. Policies and laws governing the health and safety of our children should not be politically motivated because they tend to be toothless and risk having the opposite outcome. Parents came simply refuse to answer. That wouldn't be breaking the law. They can also lie. What parent is going to admit to keeping a loaded handgun in the unlocked nightstand? This policy is weak and pointless.
What do you think? I am off to sign up for a refresher CPR course.