What To Do When Your Doctor Asks About Your Guns

By Timothy Wheeler

Doctors and Guns
What To Do When Your Doctor Asks About Your Guns
Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership
Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership

USA – -(Ammoland.com)- Have you had the experience of going to your doctor for a particular problem, let’s say headaches, and been surprised by the doctor asking you about a completely unrelated subject – whether you have a gun in your home?

It’s no accident that doctors’ or health plans’ questions about guns in your home have become routine. In the 1980s and 1990s medical professional organizations declared a culture war on gun ownership in America. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) developed an official policy (2012 version here) urging pediatricians to probe their young patients’ parents about guns in their homes.

Claiming only to be concerned about “gun safety”, the latest code term for gun control, the AAP pushed its member doctors to advise families to get rid of their guns. One of the authors of the original AAP anti-gun policy, Dr. Katherine Christoffel, was quoted in an AMA journal as saying “Guns are a virus that must be eradicated.”

The American Medical Association (AMA) and the American College of Physicians (ACP) have also mounted aggressive and highly publicized campaigns against gun ownership and advised their member physicians to pressure their patients to get rid of their guns. Other physician specialty groups have done the same.

Many people are rightly outraged by this unprofessional behavior of some physicians. Several states, most notably Florida, have passed laws to stop doctors and other health care professionals from misusing their patients’ trust to push a political agenda of gun control. Such abuse of authority and trust by a physician is called an ethical boundary violation.

You may encounter the question in your health plan’s standard health appraisal questionnaire. Even though it may not be of your doctor’s making, it’s still part of your permanent medical record. Or your doctor may have a personal prejudice against gun ownership, shaped by her training in medical school or residency.

Either way, it is important for people to know some very important facts:

  • Doctors receive absolutely no training about firearm safety, mechanics, or tactics in medical school or residency. They are completely unqualified by their training to advise anyone about guns.
  • Gun ownership is a civil right. A doctor’s abuse of his position of trust to pressure you to give up that civil right is professionally and morally wrong. In some states it is illegal. You DO NOT have to tolerate it.
  • You as a consumer have great power in the doctor-patient relationship. Do not be afraid to use it.

Let’s be clear. We’re not talking about a doctor who casually talks with you about guns out of a common interest you both may have. If you and your doc get to comparing notes about your favorite hunting rifles or latest trip to the gun range, that is a world apart from a calculated effort to prejudice you against gun ownership.

So what can you do when your doctor or your health plan starts asking you about guns in your home?

Your doctor may very likely just be going along with the guidelines of his or her gun-hating medical organization, such as the AAP or ACP. One survey showed that although many doctors agree that guns are a public health problem, only a minority feel it’s right to ask their patients about guns in their homes. Many doctors sense that it’s wrong and don’t allow themselves to be recruited as gun control activists by their medical organizations.

Doctor Gun Banners
Such abuse of authority and trust by a physician is called an ethical boundary violation.

A range of options is available to you, some sending a more powerful message than others. These are updated from DRGO’s original recommendations, since the medical profession has changed so much in the last two decades.

1) Politely refuse to answer the doctor’s question or the health plan’s questionnaire item about guns. You can either explain your discomfort with the question or decline to give a reason.

2) If the gun question(s) appears on your health plan’s routine health assessment questionnaire, file a formal written complaint with the health plan. Every health plan has a member complaint process, often prescribed by law. Your complaint will be registered and the health plan will respond.

3) If the health plan responds with the excuse that their questions about your guns are standard medical practice that they must follow, you can take the complaint to the next step—file a written complaint with your state agency that regulates health plans. For example, in California you would follow the complaint procedure on the Department of Managed Health Care web site. It’s your right as a patient under California law.

4) If your doctor persists in asking intrusive questions about guns in your home, you can also file a complaint specifically against him or her with your health plan. Such complaints are taken seriously, and the doctor will be called to account for it. Having one or more complaints about ethical boundary violations on her record will make her think twice about doing it again.

5) Internet consumer rating sites have created another way doctors can be publicly rated on the basis of service, attitude, and behavior. Some commonly used rating sites are Yelp.com, Healthgrades.com, Vitals.com, and RateMDs.

6) Increasingly, doctors’ pay from Medicare and insurance companies is tied to how they score on patient satisfaction surveys. These are often sent randomly to patients, but you can request one to fill out. You can have a powerful impact on a doctor’s conduct by reporting the doctor’s unethical questioning about your guns.

7) If the doctor’s conduct is especially offensive, as was the case with this Florida pediatrician, you have the right to submit a complaint to the doctor’s licensing board. This is an agency in your state government that holds the ultimate power of licensure over your doctor. A quick internet search for “medical board” in your state should take you to the official form for filing a complaint. This is a step that should not be taken lightly.

Remember when writing your complaint to be polite. Explain why you find the doctor’s or health plan’s behavior unacceptable.

Include the powerful points we’ve discussed:

  • Your doctor is professionally unqualified to give expert advice on firearms
  • Your right to own firearms is a civil right that is none of your doctor’s business
  • A doctor misusing his or her authority and trust to push a political agenda of gun control is an ethical boundary violation. Such unprofessional conduct is not acceptable.
Timothy Wheeler
Timothy Wheeler

Your right to own a firearm is enshrined in the Constitution. Don’t let any doctor or health plan intimidate you into giving up your civil rights.

Download the DRGO Resource Document “What to Do When Your Doctor Asks About Your Guns” here

—Timothy Wheeler, MD is director of Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership, a project of the Second Amendment Foundation. www.drgo.us

  • 323 thoughts on “What To Do When Your Doctor Asks About Your Guns

    1. I have made no secret about the matter, but my MDs know I am a veteran with the mild personality that convinced an attacking Doberman to back off on its home turf and routinely carry a stout walking stick and a large lockback folder

    2. Oh yeah sure, all doctors walk on water. M wondering who wrote all the scripts for white crosses in the 70s? Ludes in the 80s, opiates recently?
      Can’t wait to hear denials from the kool-aid drinkers.
      Not all drs. Are dope peddlers, not all firearm owners are murders but, all brainwashed idiots are idiots

    3. My Doctor knows I am a retired Police Officer, nine of them have ever asked me if I have or even if I am carrying a firearm. I guess they have enough intelligence to know that I do and that I am.

    4. My family doctor sees me each time I go in because he doesn’t want the other doctors to ask me any questions, when he asks me how my day is going, I always ask him if he has buried any of his patents lately, then he says well you haven’t changed your opinion of doctors yet I see! You guys have a habit of burying your mistakes! They get a license to practice medicine and I have to be certified to drive a truck?

      1. Not really a helpful list. It is a lot easier to just say NO I don’t like guns. That ends the conversation. I did that with one of my doctors. Of course he countered with, “Didn’t we just go shooting together the other day?” But usually just say you don’t like guns. Not, “None of your business.” That means you have them.

    5. Went in for some TDAP booster shots for a new job I was starting and the place has no signs against firearms and I was carrying so I thought what the hell. I went up to the office, checked in and was called back to a room about 10 minutes later, The young woman asked me to remove my outer shirt and I stammered a little and said not to worry about the weird growth hanging off my hip. She chuckled and asked what caliber I carried and then began to tell me about the high end compact 1911 she has in her locker. She said I won’t tell if you don’t–hehehe.
      I have since switched clinics because of insurance BS and they are anti-gun or at least there are signs not permitting firearms inside. Not cool. I was asked about owning firearms on a questionnaire and I just replied “nunya” as in nunya business. Then it was brought up later in a conversation by the Doc nonchalantly and I gave a look like Clint Eastwood did in “The Unforgiven”. He made no comment nor asked any further questions on the subject.

      1. Have never had a doctor ask about guns except for advice on hunting rifles or self defense weapons. I offer them no charge renewal of concealed carry certification. One is a hunting buddy and some others have CCW licenses.

    6. First and foremost it is none of their business and I for one have no problem telling them that I do not have a gun in my home. What are they going to do come and search my house? Deny me service? No problem they are thousands of doctors in my area and I have no problem finding a new one.

    7. You can also just say “NO” to the question. Since your ownership of a gun is not directly related to any disease process or health condition known to Medical Science (other than a thinner wallet LOL), you’re not denying information that could directly affect your care or health condition. Since it’s an invasive question that has no bearing upon your care, you’re perfectly within your rights to say No or mark the questionnaire as “N/A.” Even my children and grandchildren know and have been educated to answer NO if this subject comes up at school. It really comes down to “It’s None Of Their Damn Business” whether I own firearms or not.

    8. Although I wanted to educate myself on some stategies concerning this issue, hence reading this article, this is VERY real! I have already experienced it myself. At the time, all I said was IT IS NONE OF YOUR GD BUSINESS! And then I proceeded to tell her about my collections and how I was/ am training my children into the PROPER USE OF FIREARMS & THEIR SAFETY!! (just to get a rise out of her) Followed by what is it to you? I do not think the women was really ready for my responce. I also proceeded to tell her that I would not question her personal life and activities. So what has prompted these questions? That is when I came to undstand this new strategy.

    9. Unfortunately, it’s an initiative from the CDC and the federal government. They’re using doctors to find out who has guns. In some cases they are using this information to force veterans to either give up their guns or be refused certain benefits. Soon, the database will be used to determine who qualifies for Medicaid/ Medicare or worse yet federal healthcare when the system is finally forced to a one payor system. This is why they are working so hard to force us into government universal healthcare- CONTROL and the ability to disarm the citizens. And let’s be real about how we answer the question. You realize all the charts are electronic now, right? They instantly upload all the data from your visit into a national data base. You don’t get actually see your chart. When the Doc asks you if you have any guns, they’re highly educated and smart enough to read between the lines. Refusing to answer the question or getting defensive or “offended” about it- that might as well just be a big affirmative. That’s what they know and that’s what they will put as your answer. You might as well just say no and move on. They are making a list of gun owners by any means necessary and they are preparing to use that list for forced registration and eventually confiscation. The feds and the CDC are monitoring that list assuredly. Yes answers and refused/ blank answers all get flagged as an address whose door will be kicked in when they decide it’s time to use the information. Do not tell your doctor anything other than “No”.

      1. The gubbamint already knows who has what. The 4473 form, although we are told it is not a registering form is likely just that. Not to mention all the pro-gun social websites that people join and then brag about what guns they have and post pics online of them all. How about the electronic devices we own that gubbamint uses to spy on us. The CIA, FBI, NSA etc use our cell phones, TV’s, computers and now refrigerators, dishwashers and what have you to eaves drop on America. If it ever comes to the nwo commie satanic globalist elite deciding to F*** with OUR constitution to a point where they declare it null and void and start some BS confiscation efforts then I sure hope everyone here has the cajones to retaliate with extreme prejudice starting with the scumbag politicians and their armed entourage then the militarized LEO’s on the wrong side.

    10. Give no comment.. immediately follow by filing a complaint against the doctor for asking private and non-health related questions. Go after the doctor, make it personal. Make the doctor answer the paperwork pain to follow. Question his ethics and intentions; question his competence as a doctor. You can’t fight the system or the health care group he works for, but you can make HIS life hell for asking. Make it HIS problem. Your only other option is a costly lawsuit and health care firms have far more money.

      1. Best response yet. It’s really none of their business and if they subscribe to the intrusion, make them suffer. Go look for another doctor.

    11. We are used to having our second amendment rights assaulted, therefore there is no reason to get bent out of shape. Easiest thing to do is simply say “NO”. It is none of their business and they may know you are lying, but so what. It is none of their business, and we have all heard the phrase “Just say No”.

    12. I have never been asked such questions by any of my various doctirs, but if I were asked I’d have no compounction agauinst lieing and simply answering “NO” . 1) It’s none of their business, 2) the question is asked to gain information that could be used to infrinhe my natural right toi keep and bear arms. 3) Any answer but “no” is an admission you do own firarms.I don’t accept that telling a lie is always wrong e.g. if ones wife asks “Do these jeans make me look fat/” if you know what’s good for you, you’d better lie and say “absolutley not dear”. Seriously had I been a german during the Nazis era I like to think I would have aided Jews to escape the holacost. If an SS man knocked on my door and askd me if I was hiding any Jews, I would gladly have lied and said “no” – same answer I’d give a doctor asking irrelevant questions about my gun ownership.

      1. You don’t need to be a hater! Not saying I wouldn’t mind that Liberal mentality be beaten out of them but we are a more civilised group and can be more useful by voting them out and someone more favorable in. But if that doesn’t work…well, maybe blowing their house up will,kidding! Seriously, dont do that!

    13. Before you visit your doctor remove your guns from your home and secure them somewhere else. If the doc asks you if you have guns in your home and answer “no”. This is what a friend does.

        1. Years ago , during the Clinton years , I had to go see a company DR for a CDL exam test and such. required to fill out papers . most normal things but then … emergency contacts when are they home , Do you live alone . do you have fire arms in your home ?? I answerd only who the emergency contacts were and phone numbers. Was ready to ask the young lady at the desk where she lived if she lived alone and if she had a gun in the house ? I bet she would have been a bit uneasy ..

      1. I agree, I know that the VA doctors ask in conjunction with suicide prevention – my GP never does or has, nor do I believe what is being said by this author

      2. My doctor is at the va at bay pines. No va doctor would ever ask a patient that stupid question.if a doctor ever ask me if I owned a gun I’d tell him its none of his business

        1. Sorry Bro! Doctors are not in cahoots with the government. No matter what they ask you, you’re just being paranoid. Hope you live a long paranoid life. The government is not out to get your guns. Do you think your measly little collection would harm the 278th Calvary? You are kidding yourself, you paranoid son of a biscuit!

          Jefro

    14. Note to author: her training, & his position, & her record will make her think twice about doing it again; Should’ve been, They’re training, & etc, short and effective, or, the long way, His or hers training, Easier to speak collective. When you single out male or female, Not good. You wrote a good article, but certain wording is everything, Thank you, GR,

      1. What a self-important feminist SJW clown.
        An ignoramus, too, who is so uneducated (but filled with religious zeal) that they are unaware that “he,” “his” etc. are by long usage the accepted pronouns for referring to a non-specific individual.

        And that use of “they” is just virtue-signaling.

        What a leftist jackass.

      2. This gender BS needs to STOP!!!! He is HE, she is SHE, get the f*ck OVER it!
        There are TWO, count em, TWO genders, EVERYTHING ELSE is MENTAL ILLNESS that severely needs treatment, PERIOD!

        1. JB is right. Just use They, Their, Them. It works for all professions. Not mental illness, just impartiality.
          I also don’t like “you guys” unless it is coupled with “and gals.” Use “folks” and it applies to both. Simple.

        2. Take it easy there, Frank. This has nothing to do with the whole Gender Identity “you have to use MY pronouns” thing. You’ll note that Mr. JB indicated correct usage would have been to either use “They” or “his or her”; he did NOT “his or her or zie or zir or xi or xan” etc.

          This is purely a matter of good grammar and sentence construction. When speaking of a *non-specified* individual by their occupation, i.e. Doctor, Researcher, Legislator, Mechanic, Electrician, it has been considered correct form to use they/them/their for decades, ever since the years following women entering the workforce. It was a natural transition that our language underwent by way of voluntary mass acceptance, the way language *should* evolve. There’s a time to rage against the machine over compulsory pronoun shenanigans. This is not that time. This is settled English construction long ago accepted and adopted.

    15. I have said why do you ask? They said it’s just among all the questions they have to ask. Then they usually ask the depression question. And I have said that I haven’t had any anxiety or depression since I got my concealed carry and guns. That whenever I get bored or stressed a little range time resets me and puts a little lift in my step. If I had the money and a place to go easily if I could practice everyday I would be really happy. In fact, on one of my wedding anniversaries that it what my husband and I did, had some range time and out to dinner later. Told the doctor too. At first she was a bit shocked then she laughed and said we must be one of the few couples who get along well. I said yes we do. I met an elderly lady at a gun show who’s husband was a retired state policeman. He got her into shooting competitions and she has won some trophies. She likes the bearcat revolvers. Sweet little grandmother type you would never guess she could out shoot her husband. LOL

    16. I put N/A on things that are not applicable. This includes ssn in most cases. My doc is really good guy, but I found all the social development questions happened only on well child checkups. So I only did that the one time.

    17. First visit to doc under medicare gets you asked if you have guns in your house in N.C.. Is it legal in N.C.?

    18. First. Check your state and local laws beforehand to see if it is unlawful to ask that question. I live in Missouri and yes it is unlawful to ask that. If you take your children to a doctor’s office, they will use all kinds of excuses to get children away from their parents to ask them questions about if there are any firearms in their home. Stay with your children at the doctor’s office at all times. If they they get pushy on you staying in another room while they weigh your child or whatever, then just politely decline their services, walk out and then file a complaint. Also, residents here don’t have to have a CCW anymore. Reason being is that the Social Security Administration obtained all state CCW licenses in an attempt to see if there was anyone on disability to be investigated. Just do a search and a bunch of articles come up on it. So, the state senate called a meeting and grilled them on citizens civil rights and then changed the law so people who reside here don’t have to have a CCW. Remember. You have a right to remain silent and anything you say can be used against you.

    19. One of the questions they also use is: ” Have you been feeling depressed or despondent”?
      There’s a question that can get your guns taken away from you. Be careful how you answer.

        1. yes it is and I always tell them its none of their business and stop asking me if im depressed cause youll never win being sneaky trying to take peoples rights away

    20. Gee doc, I used to have a couple but with your bills so high I had to dust them off and sell them to pay your bills and buy the drugs you say I need to take.

    21. I agree. I don’t think my PCP has ever asked about guns, and if she did I probably said it was non of her business. Now I would also quote it being my constitutional right to have as firearm if I wanted.

    22. My doctor is cool with it, I carry in his office and so does he.
      I’ve seen him and his teenage sons in the gun store more than once.

      1. When asked if I owned a gun, I tell them that I am a collector and have more than forty guns in my vault. Never been asked since.

    23. Be wary of the Doctor who tries to trick you into admitting you have guns.
      Doctor: Yeah, Went to the range this weekend to shoot my .357. Love guns. You own any guns?
      Me. Oh, that’s quite nice! God bless the second amendment and the people who chose to own guns.

    24. My Doc is a cool old dude. One time during an exam he wanted me to lay flat on my back on the table. I was rockin a small of the back carry of a fairly large pistol that day so I asked him if he was comfortable with me taking off my pistol and setting it in the chair. He said completely unphased “if you can do it without it discharging then sure”. I chuckled and removed the gun and not another word was said.

    25. I had this question on my Health assessment form at the first of the year, I wrote this:
      NOYFB
      you can figure out what it means…..

    26. I used the Veteran’s choice program to see a private doctor. During the visit, I focused on my medical problems. Yet, in the notes, he said that I had mentioned “depression.” I am double degreed, a huge Second Amendment guy, and have been stuckbin the Veteran’s Administration system forc46 years, because I live in a country that does’nt care if veterans are’nt allowed to pick their OWN providers.The V.A. has already used depression and every other mental diagnosis to steal veteran’s Second Amendment rights, and force their disability checks into conservatorship! Knowing this, why would I have EVER mentioned depression? The doctor flat out LIED! This goes way beyond “boundary violations,” and is an actual CRIME and violation of the Hypocratic Oath! The V.A. doctors are doing the same thing! They actually ASK (or at least they DID before veterans threw a justified fit!) if you are armed! They also ask if you are suicidal or homocidal! At 67, and a disabled Vietnam combat veteran, trust me when I tell you these commie SCUM want your guns!!

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