Mass AG Wants Doctors to Ask About Guns

Mass AG Wants Doctors to Ask About Guns
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey. photo from berkshireeagle.comweb photo

Beleaguered Massachusetts gun owners beware: the next time you go to the doctor, they might as you about your firearms after the questions about drugs and alcohol, according to this story from berkshireeagle.com, as part on an effort to "curb gun violence by treating it as a public health issue and involving medical professionals in gun safety discussions."

At the front of the effort is notorious anti-gunner Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, who announced that her office and the Massachusetts Medical Society joined forces to make information brochures and online training opportunities available to physicians who "want to engage patients in discussions of gun safety," the story says.

"Our healthcare providers are on the front lines, they have a critical role in preventing gun-related injuries and death. But last year we discovered screening and counseling about guns remains relatively uncommon," Healey said at a press conferences at Boston Medical Center, the story says.

"Many doctors don't feel like they have the information they need to discuss gun safety with patients. Some are unsure if it is even legal to ask their patients about guns. Others don't know what practical advice they can give. Still others don't know what reporting obligations exist or might be triggered when it comes to gun-related questions."

The story says doctors will be encouraged to talk to their patients about gun safety "just as they would with any other potentially dangerous household risk such as chemicals in cleaning supplies, backyard pools, alcohol and cigarettes, prescription medication, or fire hazards."

Most would agree that only a couple of those things readily spring to mind when it comes to what a medical doctor might ask a patient.

The story says doctors who elect to take the optional continuing education course related to gun safety conversations will learn about gun license laws, reporting obligations, guidance on patient privacy, and "ways to approach what could be a sensitive subject with patients," the story says.

"While we know that the majority of gun owners are extremely responsible and are committed to a strong sense of safety as it pertains to their personal firearms, the fact remains that incidents involving firearm discharges continue to occur," Chief Brian Kyes, president of the MMCCA, said. "We firmly believe that the key to decreasing these oftentimes tragic accidents is a comprehensive prevention program focused on continued awareness and providing detailed information as it pertains to firearm safety."

It seems to be a solution to a problem that doesn't exist, as Massachusetts had the lowest gun death rate of any state in the country in 2015, the story says. Gun ownership in the state stands at 14.3 percent, the story says.

Healey grabbed headlines last year when she took it upon herself to reinterpret the state's "assault weapon" ban to outlaw AR- and AK-style rifles, along with many other semi-auto firearms, in the state.

She also launched a sweeping investigation into the safety of firearms made by two companies, Remington and Glock. Both companies filed lawsuits to fights her efforts.

Healey pointed to the state’s low gun death rate as evidence that laws passed in 2014 have been effective.

"There are so many different factors that may go into that. Can I say that that law in and of itself is the reason? Probably not. But what I can say is the fact that we here in Massachusetts take gun violence very seriously," House Speaker Robert DeLeo, a proponent of the 2014 law, said. "And I think if you couple all of that into one large package, that I think is the major reason why ... we have those types of statistics that we have."

The story says the 2014 law required the development of an online portal to log information about private gun sales, authorized licensed gun dealers to access criminal offender record information and other info, as well ass submit more information to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).