Asking Patients About Guns is a Loaded Question for Docs

Jacqueline Fellows, for HealthLeaders Media , April 10, 2014

The American College of Physicians says gun-related violence is a public health problem that doctors should address with patients. But few physicians actually do.

It is time to recognize that gun-related violence is more than an endless and polarizing political debate. It is a public health problem that doctors need to start discussing with patients.

That's the unavoidable message from a new policy paper from the American College of Physicians published today in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Citing the mass shootings in Aurora, Colo., Newtown, Conn., and most recently (and for a second time), at Fort Hood, Texas, ACP President Molly Cooke, MD, FACP, says physicians have a role to play in reducing gun-related injuries and deaths.

"We felt we needed to call the attention of our members and physicians in general to the regularity with which this is happening," Cooke told HealthLeaders Media. "We recognize gun ownership is a constitutional right, but we are intending to call attention to the risk associated with that right, and that people have a responsibility to manage their gun safely."

The ACP outlines nine recommendations for reducing gun-related violence, including waiting periods; a universal background check to prohibit gun sales to felons and people with a mental illness who are at risk for hurting themselves or others; a ban on assault and semiautomatic guns to civilians; safety features such as trigger locks; and more education on preventing gun injuries and death in medical schools, residency programs, and CME courses.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Comments are moderated. Please be patient.

4 comments on "Asking Patients About Guns is a Loaded Question for Docs"

Kevin Michalowski (4/14/2014 at 11:57 AM)
If you believe it is time for Doctors to start asking patients about guns, then it is well past time for Doctors, and organizations like yours, to start getting real training and solid information about guns. Your position on an assault weapons ban is foolish. How is it that a pistol grip or bayonet lug or detachable magazine could make one gun more dangerous than another? Your support of Universal Background Check is simply a cover for a national registration scheme. If you sell me a gun without conducting a background check how is anyone to know? The only way anyone could know is if the gun's serial number was registered in a national data base AND someone physically confirmed the location of that gun on a regular schedule. Even then unless the confirmation of the location was daily that background check does nothing to stop a crime. So, a background check without registration and regular confirmation of location does nothing but interfere with the rights of honest citizens. Do we still have a 4th Amendment right against illegal searches? Does the fact that we own a gun suddenly make us a criminal, subject to such searches? Far better would be for the your group to promote universal firearms training starting in elementary school. Both my my children started firearms training and use at age 7. Thanks to responsible parenting and valuable early education, both are now fine, responsible young adults with great safety skills. You spend very little time talking about personal responsibility and much more time talking about intrusions into people's private lives. If you, as physicians, want to reduce the number of people injured or killed through the misuse of firearms, you should all become certified firearms instructors and begin teaching safety classes. At the same time, please publish the number of deaths as a result of physician malpractice. Then tell us who and what is more dangerous.

cb (4/11/2014 at 1:02 PM)
If that is a question asked by my doc I'm finding another doc.

Todd Lilje (4/10/2014 at 9:08 PM)
Having a very difficult time understanding why physicians need to address the issue of guns in the home! Historically, this country has maintained to the right to bear arms, a constitutional right. Guns in the home are one of many potential hazards in the home, but do not need to be singled out any more than other such hazards in the home, unless you are of of the mind that no one should own guns, except the federal government.




FREE e-Newsletters Join the Council Subscribe to HL magazine


100 Winners Circle Suite 300
Brentwood, TN 37027


About | Advertise | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Reprints/Permissions | Contact
© HealthLeaders Media 2016 a division of BLR All rights reserved.