FLORIDA - Should doctors be allowed to ask patients about guns in their homes? A bill is on Governor Rick Scott's desk that would prohibit that.
The National Rifle Association says its an invasion of privacy, and the conversation doesn't belong in the exam room. But Pediatricians like Dr. Annette MacKoul say it's their duty to ask, and educate patients and parents about possible hazards around the home, like swimming pools, chemicals, and guns.
"Every single patient who comes in for a physical gets asked, are there guns in the home?," MacKoul said. "And if the answer is yes, then we go to a whole other group of questions as to where is it kept? Is the ammunition separate from the other? Is there a lock?"
But Gov. Scott could soon sign a bill prohibiting doctors from:
-asking about gun ownership or possession, unless that information is relevant to the safety of the patient or others
-keeping record of gun ownership
-harassing/discriminating against owners
"In 20 years in practice, I have never had a negative response to that question from a parent," MacKoul said. they haven't viewed that as intrusive or anything wrong about it. part of our care is taking care of the whole family
Florida NRA Lobbyist Marion Hammer sees it differently. "If it's a matter of safety, doctors can disseminate safety brochures of all matter of products and patients can take it home and read it or throw it away," Hammer said.
Hammer and the NRA support the bill, saying gun-related questions are an intrusion on patients' 2nd amendment rights. "We go to doctors for medical care, not politics, and not to be lectured on getting rid of guns."
Still, MacKoul said, "I cant imagine how that could come into play. I really don't. Is that going to stop us? That's the question from there."
The American Academy of Pediatrics is asking Gov. Scott to veto the bill. The Governor however, has said he plans to sign it, which would make Florida the first state to enact a law like this. A few other states are not far behind from passing similar laws.