[You may also be interested in Michael Graham’s column in the Boston Herald and my interview with Dana Loesch.]
In a bizarre announcement last Thursday, the City of Boston has decided that physicians should now be required to ask all patients about their gun ownership. Mayor Martin J. Walsh wants the state of Massachusetts to legislate this in the 2019 session. Boston Police Commissioner William Gross said “This is a great way for the medical field to help identify any red-flag issues. . . It’s to put another tool in the physician’s belt to help out the victims.”
The claim is that this would “help identify ways to save lives”, according to Gross. No — as has been abundantly proven, guns in America save lives overall.
The purpose would be to identify people at risk of suicide, domestic violence, or “child access” although the information would not be intended to help solve crime. The act would not require doctors to note gun ownership in patient records.
Let’s parse this, because there is literally nothing right about it:
- Identifying gun ownership in itself reveals nothing about people at risk for suicide, domestic violence or anything else. Those are the “red-flag” issues to tease out; risk may be greater with guns at home, but those guns did not create the risk.
- Guns in the home do not create victims.
- The “tool” of inquiring about potential harm with weapons has always existed, but must be used wisely and selectively.
- Legally requiring gun ownership to be determined ensures that everyone’s records will include that status, disclaimers to the contrary. How else can the state know the law is being obeyed?
- Most worrisome, when government requires documentation, when will government decide to use it and how? If not to solve crime, then for what?
Physicians are already generally, and inappropriately, encouraged by their professional associations to ask patients about gun ownership. Then they are to use that as a springboard to advise owners they would be safer without guns, or at least to lock up firearms in one room and all ammunition separately in another part of the house.