An NRA-lobbied bill in Florida will prohibit doctors, especially pediatricians, from asking patients about their gun-safety. The bill is expected to be signed by Governor Rick Scott. Pediatricians routinely advise parents about seatbelts, bike helmets, etc, but this law will make it illegal for a doctor to offer advice on gun safety unless "it's directly relevant to the patient's care or the safety of others." Comparable legislation is under discussion in North Carolina and Alabama.
As parents know, pediatricians ask a lot of questions. Dr. Louis St. Petery says it's all part of what doctors call "anticipatory guidance" — teaching parents how to safeguard against accidental injuries. Pediatricians ask about bike helmets, seat belts and other concerns.
"If you have a pool, let's talk about pool safety so we don't have accidental drownings," he says. "And if you have firearms, let's talk about gun safety so that they're stored properly — you know, the gun needs to be locked up, the ammunition stored separate from the gun, etc., so that children don't have access to them."
For decades, the American Academy of Pediatrics has encouraged its members to ask questions about guns and how they're stored, as part of well-child visits.