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What Role Will Your Doctor Take in New Gun Control Edicts?

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As promised, President Obama has issued a total of 23 Executive Orders that he promises will push the “national conversation” forward on gun control.

Surrounded by a backdrop of children, the President spoke from the Whitehouse saying:

“This is our first task as a society—keeping our children safe. This is how we will be judged. And their voices should compel us to change. I will put everything I’ve got into this…but the only way we can change is if the American people demand it.”

“To make a real and lasting difference, Congress must act, and Congress must act soon.”

However, the President knows that the kind of gun control laws the Vice President’s working group is proposing is not a done deal, even with his own ranks; thus executive orders. Of those 23 orders, 8 directly affect the medical community.

Because the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare was passed without being read by apparently even those within the President’s inner circle, it became immediately obvious it would require an executive order to make sure physicians could overlook wording within the Act itself.

16.  Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.

17.  Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.

The President’s Executive Ordered 16 and 17 were issued in order to encourage doctors to feel free to question their patients about guns in their private homes. The Weekly Standard published the following White House brief asking doctors to be a part of the gun control effort:

  • Preserve the rights of health care providers to protect their patients and communities from gun violence: We should never ask doctors and other health care providers to turn a blind eye to the risks posed by guns in the wrong hands.
  • Clarify that no federal law prevents health care providers from warning law enforcement authorities about threats of violence: Doctors and other mental health professionals play an important role in protecting the safety of their patients and the broader community by reporting direct and credible threats of violence to the authorities. But there is public confusion about whether federal law prohibits such reports about threats of violence. The Department of Health and Human Services is issuing a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits these reports in any way.
  • Protect the rights of health care providers to talk to their patients about gun safety: Doctors and other health care providers also need to be able to ask about firearms in their patients’ homes and safe storage of those firearms, especially if their patients show signs of certain mental illnesses or if they have a young child or mentally ill family member at home. Some have incorrectly claimed that language in the Affordable Care Act prohibits doctors from asking their patients about guns and gun safety. Medical groups also continue to fight against state laws attempting to ban doctors from asking these questions. The Administration will issue guidance clarifying that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit or otherwise regulate communication between doctors and patients, including about firearms.

Interestingly enough it was the Democratic controlled senate that passed amendment 3276, Sec. 2716, part c, that stipulated the federal government could not use doctors to collect “any information relating to the lawful ownership or possession of a firearm or ammunition.”

Now the President has issued an order to ignore than part of a bill passed by his own party.

There is no doubt that mental health is a serious part of the equation and both sides of the gun control debate have for the most part called for tighter mental health standards. But do we really want our family doctors to be encouraged to ask our children if there are any guns in the house? The implications of such intrusion into our private lives by those we trust the most are ominous.

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