Perhaps the most troubling and authoritarian power grab in a series of otherwise bizarre and meaningless gun-control Executive Orders issued by the President, is the order to deputize doctors, pressing them to “out” law-abiding gun owners in their client documentation.
Every parent knows that this medical practice snooping is nothing knew. For over a decade, the American Academy of Pediatrics has made it protocol for doctors to ask their young patients if mommy or daddy keep a firearm in the home. Having seven little bambinos of my own, I’ve witnessed first hand the intrusiveness of this personal question and how the answers often garner unreliable and even fabricated stories.
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During my daughter’s most recent pediatric visit, when asked about guns in the house, she manufactured a storyline which included heavy artillery, shotguns and a whole arsenal of weapons stored away in my homestead. To top it off, she proudly told the pediatrician that none of these weapons are locked up and are all easily accessible. As a result of her spontaneous tall tale, I spent the next 5 minutes of our office visit debunking my sweet daughter’s imaginative account and reassuring the doctor that whatever weapons I do have in my house, are well-protected under lock and key. Inside I felt like a witness on a stand being interrogated by a prosecutor.
Yet even though I was able to explain away my daughter’s story, the fact is, that about 5 minutes of my brief well-child visit was wasted discussing the arsenal in my home – a figment of my daughter’s imagination – rather than my daughter’s actual physical health. And that’s 5 minutes of the doctor’s time that I will be paying for.
To my dismay, I learned that as of January 16, all doctors will be pressed into asking their patients if they keep guns in their homes and if they are locked up securely. Suddenly that valuable but fragile relationship between me and my doctor has become tainted by the possibility that my answer to this one simple question, “do you have guns in the home?” may relegate me to being a second-class patient who needs a little “talking-to” about gun safety and ownership.
Aside from the fact that it’s just downright insulting to be questioned about my second amendment right as if I’m doing something underhanded by exercising it, it’s a complete invasion of my privacy (you know, that same privacy that the left is so quick to protect when it comes to abortion.) The doctor-patient relationship has already become strained enough through Obamacare; the last thing we need is another government regulation to make it even more tenuous.
While some politicos, like Charles Krauthammer, may argue that by law, this Executive Order changes nothing, the fact is that the presidential bully pulpit wields a great deal of power. Although by law nothing may be new, many doctors, who otherwise may have been resistant to interfere in their patients’ personal lifestyles, are now emboldened to do so with the cover of the Administration to protect them.
But what of those doctors who are uncomfortable asking such intrusive questions? Will they be held accountable if one of their patients leaves the exam room and a day later goes on a killing spree? Will the doctor be liable should the authorities discover through clinical documentation that the doctor never inquired about guns during the patient’s visit? Could we be ushering in a new era of lawsuits and malpractice complaints for doctors who are not offering up a full line of firearm questioning to their patients? And how will that increased liability affect insurance costs which under government-regulated healthcare are already skyrocketing?
This Executive Order’s lack of clarity should not be underestimated. The fact is the Administration intentionally added enough ambiguity so that they can make it up as they go long, a la Obamacare. So while the media, doctors, and American citizens deliberate about the real intentions of this Executive Order, the Administration is waiting in the wings to bring down the gauntlet of its full power once the emotional debate has died down.