Texas bill would punish doctors for asking patients about firearms

A bill is making its way through the Texas legislature that would bar physicians from asking their patients about firearms in the family home and direct the Texas physician licensing board to punish to those docs who disregard the law, according to news reports from the Lone Star State.

Source: www.cbsnews.com

Texas House Bill 2823, introduced by Republican Rep. Stuart Spitzer, is similar to a Florida “gun gag” law, which survived a constitutional challenge in a federal appeals court last year.

The Florida law specifically authorizes licensing boards to discipline doctors who persist in questioning patients about firearms.

As writer Jenn Jacques noted in Bearing Arms, that the Texas bill’s sponsor reported horror stories in the medical profession that his legislation was introduced to counter.

“Pediatricians are asking children away from their parents, ‘Do you have guns in your house?’ and then reporting this on the electronic health records,” Spitzer said in a recent interview, and speaking from personal experience. “And then the federal government, frankly, has access to who has guns and who doesn’t.”

You could call it a case of back-door, informal gun registration.

Some physicians are pushing back, however.

“We, as physicians, ask all sorts of questions—about bike helmets and seat belts and swimming pool hazards, dangerous chemicals in the home, sexual behaviors, domestic violence. I could go on and on,” Fort Worth pediatrician and Texas Medical Association board member Gary Floyd said in an interview with the Texas Tribune.

Jacques reported:

Doctors [in Texas] are currently reporting who has access to guns and who doesn’t based on patient answers to medical questionnaires. I teach my children to never answer any questions pertaining to our household when I am not present, but with the feds wanting to weigh children at daycare facilities and public schools already dictating what foods children should eat, we need to take every opportunity we can to eliminate the government’s reach into our homes. HB2823 is a step in the right direction, but we should all speak to our children about keeping our families’ business private and out of the government’s intrusive reach into our parental rights.

Spitzer, who is also a surgeon, said that his bill would allow medical professionals to discuss firearms with patients in certain, well-deliniated circumstances — such as when a patient is judged suicidal. But as it stands now, most such doctor-patient discussions are “not appropriate” in his opinion.

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