Your Pediatrician Can't Ask You About Guns: The Bad, the Good, and the Hilarious in Senate Bill 432

Of potential pediatric concern.
Of potential pediatric concern.

The bad news: After percolating through subcommittee and getting yeaed and nayed half to death, Senate Bill 432 is headed to the Senate Floor today. SB 432, please recall, is the bill that would prevent pediatricians from asking parents whether they own a gun. (Pediatricians generally ask parents about guns so as to determine whether to share gun safety advice.) SB 432 is a bill constructed of pure paranoia, born of the fear that some pediatrician's gun ownership database will be used by an oppressive government to round up patriots' firearms. (Note to legislators: If you think it's part of your job to forestall The Cohen Act, pediatricians are the least of your problems.)


The good news: Senate Bill 432 was too crazy to pass, so it's been rewritten almost unto meaninglessness. Now, pediatricians can't ask about gun ownership unless they think the question is relevant to a child's health. Since the only reason a pediatrician might ask about gun ownership is because of guns' well-documented potential for punching holes in children's bodies and since having a hole punched in one's body is, with a few notable exceptions, considered harmful to one's health -- yeah, pediatricians are pretty much in the clear. All Senate Bill 432 will prevent them from doing is compiling a database of gun owners and refusing the right to service based on a patient's answer to gun-related questions. Which sounds just fine.

The hilarious: Even in its denatured state, SB 432 is ironic in at least two ways. First, it's worth noting that SB 432's author, Sen. Jason Brodeur, has been pretty clear about his opposition to bureaucratic intrusion into patient-doctor relationships. It's also ironic that the NRA, when it's not extolling the virtues of SB 432, spends a great deal of time promulgating precisely the kind of gun-safety advice that pediatricians are wont to give gun-owning parents. Education, they insist, is the key to gun safety -- except when it comes from people, such as pediatricians, who mightn't be gun nuts, in which case it's oppressive and wrong.


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