On July 25, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a Florida law that prevents physicians from talking with patients about guns in their homes when it is “irrelevant to medical care.”
As a pediatrician, the reality is firearm safety is relevant to every family I see. Nine children and youth are involved every day in gun accidents. Thirty-seven percent of Americans own or live with someone who owns a firearm. For me to discern which homes those are is impossible without asking the appropriate questions. Without asking I cannot provide guidance, and without providing guidance I am not fulfilling my role as a pediatrician.
Our primary concern as pediatricians is the safety of children and families. This ruling has nothing to do with Second Amendment rights. We are not a reporting agency and medical records are private. We just want to ensure the safety of all children and families in an appropriate manner, without reserve or judgment.
I am concerned for my colleagues in Florida, and do not want to consider how I would proceed to fulfill my professional obligations given the proposed consequences. For now, I do not have to consider it as I practice here in Pittsburgh, but I do hope that our community recognizes how disturbing and disheartening this law is to our physicians and, more importantly, how dangerous this law and potential future laws of this manner are to the safety of our children and families.
Christian Pulcini, M.D.