A Gun Owner Goes to the Doctor

Doctors and the Guns Question
Doctors and the Guns Question
Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership
Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership

USA –  -(Ammoland.com)- Most doctors don’t care whether you own guns and won’t bother asking because they don’t have the time, although some may enjoy chatting about them as shared interests.

But occasionally one will raise the question as if it has something to do with routine medical (“preventive”) care.

Here are some examples:

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Scene: A physician’s exam room, complete with chair, small desk, exam table, cabinets full of mystery items—and a computer. 

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Version 1 (how it ought to go, if the doctor even asks):

Doctor:  “Well, what seems to be the trouble?”

Patient:  “It’s my ________ [fill in preferred physical complaint].”

Doctor (after a quick exam):  “All right, take this prescription and come back in 2 weeks for a re-check.  By the way, my specialty organization recommends that we ask and counsel patients about guns.”

Patient:  “Why in the world, doc?”

Doctor:  “Uh, because they’re dangerous.  So do you own any?”

Patient:  “You mean dangerous like driving, swimming, and using power tools and ladders?  Since that’s not why I came to you, it’s not relevant, is it?”

Doctor:  “I’ll just put that down as ‘Not Applicable’ then.”

Patient:  “Fine with me, doc.  Thanks.”

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Version 2 (how it might go, if the doctor is more persistent):

Doctor:  “Well, what seems to be the trouble?”

Patient:  “It’s my ________ [fill in preferred complaint].”

Doctor (after a quick exam):  “All right, take this prescription and come back in 2 weeks for a re-check.  By the way, my specialty organization recommends that we ask and counsel patients about guns.”

Patient:  “Why in the world, doc?”

Doctor:  “Because they’re really dangerous.  So do you own any?”

Patient:  “Well, my family has always had guns.  I’m comfortable with them.”

Doctor:  “I’m sure you know that guns kill over 30,000 Americans every year, and when they are present make firearms injury and death more of a risk.”

Patient:  “I suppose.  But no one in my family or anyone I know who follow safety rules has ever even had an unintended discharge.  As I recall, less than 0.1% of gun owners are ever involved in shootings, even though most even have more than one gun.  And what do you mean by ‘guns kill’, doc?  I never saw a gun do anything without someone making it.”

Doctor:  “Maybe so.  But did you know that they should always be kept locked up with the ammunition locked separately in another room?”

Patient:  “I’ve heard that.  It’d be really tough to do in our one-room camp cabin.  And wouldn’t it get confusing if you have to go all over the house unlocking multiple storage units just to work on your gun, reload or actually shoot the things?”

Doctor:   “I wouldn’t know, but that’s what they say.  You want to know about gun safety, don’t you?”

Patient:  “Oh, do you mean Cooper’s Four Rules, NRA’s Three Rules, NSSF’s 10 Rules of Safe Gun Handling?, or maybe Revee’s Three Accident-Proof Rules?”

Doctor:  “That’s a lot of rules—what, 20 rules to remember how to use a gun?”

Patient:  “Well, there’s some overlap.  What do you mean by ‘gun safety’, anyway, Doc?”

Doctor:  “All I know is about locking up guns and ammunition in separate rooms, and that for your and your family’s safety I’m supposed to advise you to get rid of them, because so many people get hurt by them.”

Patient:  “Gee, I always thought that ‘gun safety’ was about using guns safely, like we always do.   But if everyone got rid of them, how safe would that be?  How would people be able to protect themselves against violence—especially women, the elderly and the disabled?”

Doctor:  “Well, I don’t have all the answers.”

Patient:  “Sounds like you just have one or two, no matter what the question is. . .”

Doctor:  “I can’t cover every hazard in detail.  Life is full of them.”

Patient:  “People die in traffic accidents, drownings and poisonings, lots more than in shootings. So do you mean we shouldn’t drive, swim or use any chemical unless it can be swallowed?”

Doctor:  “No, I that would be going too far.  There’s good in all of those, just be careful not to get hurt.”

Patient:  “Now that sounds like good advice, doc.  Hope you understand that’s what smart people do with guns, too.”

Doctor:  “Well, that does make sense.  You might know best how to handle your own guns depending on how you use them and who else might be around.”

Patient:  “Yeah, I think so, doc.”

Doctor:  “So do you own any guns?  You never answered that question.”

Patient:  “No, I didn’t.  Why do you want to know again?”

Doctor:  “It was in order to tell you how to be safe with them, but I’ve got this electronic medical record form to fill in the information, too.”

Patient: “Well, I know what your advice was now.  What happens to information about guns in that record?”

Doctor:  “Oh, all your information is confidential and can’t be shared without your permission.  Unless, as you’ve already signed for, it has anything to do with coordinating treatment, quality reporting required by insurers or the government, or communicating for any business purposes with other organizations.”

Patient:  “That doesn’t sound too private, doc.  Has patient information ever gotten stolen from electronic records?  I never heard of information from locked up paper charts getting out.”

Doctor:  “Um, well, a few times—but electronic records are supposed to increase the quality of care.”

Patient:  “So how much has been stolen?”

Doctor:  “Uh, to be honest, millions of patient records, including clinical, financial and personal information, have been hacked from electronic databases.”

Patient:  “Sounds like more good reason not to go into anything that’s not about the medical care I need, then.  You know, I just wonder why the medical world gets so focused on guns when we hear that hundreds of thousands of patients die from medical mistakes every year.”

Doctor:  “Tell you what, let’s just skip this stuff about guns—and I’ll try not to make any mistakes on you.”

Patient:  “OK, doc.”

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Robert B. Young, MD
Robert B. Young, MD

Versions 3+:  These are the scenarios that shouldn’t happen, such as the doctor getting upset if you decline to tell about your guns or your finding out your children are being asked about it without your permission.  In these cases, see What to Do When Your Doctor Asks About Guns.



— Robert B. Young, MD is a psychiatrist practicing in Pittsford, NY, an associate clinical professor at the University of Rochester School of Medicine, and a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.

Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership, a project of the Second Amendment Foundation. www.drgo.us

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Robert Kulik

I’d suggest telling your doctor, “That’s an inappropriate question” and refusing to answer.


Nunyabiz, doc.


We should all be aware that today all medical files are in “The Cloud”. If you respond to the question in any way that suggests that you do have firearms, it’s likely to be entered on your medical record. Who knows who has the ability to hack into your medical records. With the Government’s vast super computer resources, they could run all medical records of gun owners against a list of those who complied with some future registration requirement, and pull a list of possible non-compliers to concentrate their efforts on.

Wild Bill

The people that lived under communism had to learn to lie intelligently and convincingly, so that they might continue to live. They had to learn to recognize infiltrators, false flag operations, political traps, and paid informants.
We, for the time being, must adopt the same skills.


I don’t argue with these clowns because you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t. If you become argumentative they can/will enter negative input into your medical chart. If you say you own guns, that too will be input into your medical chart and probably be viewed negatively. I just say “No guns” and move on. You are not going to change their minds about firearms anyway. If you don’t care for their questions, attitude, or medical skills, don’t answer their questions and find another doctor. I don’t like Target, What-a-Burger, certain movie chains and movie stars,… Read more »

Mike McAllister

Better answer is to ask if the doctor knows how many people die from malpractice each year! Bet he would shut up pretty fast!!


Wait until you Go to the VA , They even ask you if you have knifes and other defensive weapons at home, Or do you feel like hurting yourself TODAY. Well after waiting for 6 months 3 1/2 hours for your appointment, You do feel like slicing your wrist, Do you ever notice there are no scissors handy in the waiting room. Fight for your country and put up with this type of treatment, I see why they are always asking for more people to Join the ranks. Put the Money into the Health care and then ask for more… Read more »


My doctor at the VA asked if I had ever thought about suicide. I said “Doc, I would bet that there isn’t a person here including you that hasn’t thought of it. However it’s like my father-in-law used to say, “You can’t keep a bird from flying over your head, but you can keep it from building a nest in your hair.” He laughed and told me that I was right and did I care if he used that. I’ve never been asked again. My grandson’s doctor asked him if there were guns in the house .. after we had… Read more »


I have not had any doctors at the VA nor my private doctors ask if I own guns or have any weapons. If they did all I would tell them about is my crossbow, sling shot, and 5 hammers 1 sledge hammer, maybe. Guns, knives and the amount of ammo are no ones business but mine. Because I have a CCW doesn’t automatically mean that I have a gun!!! A CCW says that I can carry a concealed ‘WEAPON’, it doesn’t say CCG as in ‘conceal carry gun’. Anything can be a weapon. More people have died from hammers, knives,… Read more »

Pistol Pete

I am not going to lie about owning gun
I am just going to tell the Dr. that it is none of his business nor it is any of obama’s business
Then i will find another Dr. because Liberals are brain Dead fools


All the doctors I know own guns. My family doctor is an avid outdoorsman. Asking someone in Arkansas if they own gun(s) is like asking them if they like to eat.


The last time I went to the VA hospital in Loam Linda ca the orthopedic Dr asked if I had any guns, I asked him what guns have to do with my knee injury. While trying to run i blew my right knee and that has nothing to do with guns at all.
Either way every once in a while I get asked if I have guns in the house and the standard answer to that question in absolutely NO, the VA has a way want to take a veterans guns away for no reason.

Matt in Oklahoma

I go to Drs that are pro gun and don’t care if you answer it or not. Do not ever answer that question. If they ask just refuse then leave.

David Schaefer

As a physician, I refuse to ask patients if they own guns. I also advise patients to deny gun ownership if asked.


Good for you Doc


A semanticist like me would reply, ‘Why, no – there isn’t A gun in the house…”

Also, at a new physician’s office,I was asked whether I wned any guns. I replied, “You will find your answer in Articles 1, 2, 4 and 5 of the Bill of Rights.” I’m sure they are still baffled.


I lost all my guns in a tragic canoe accident.


@holmes,I’m picking up what you’re laying down ! …..I sold all my firearms years ago ! …wink…

Witold Pilecki

How about this version?

Doc: Any firearms in your home?

Pt: Why do you ask?

Doc: Because they’re dangerous. 33,000 people a year die because of them.

Pt: Well if that’s true, then I am outta here, because 195,000 people die each year because of medical mistakes.

Dave from San Antonio

Good response!…and true, too. Medical mistakes and incompetence is one of the leading causes of premature death in the U.S….in all age groups.


What about all the people that are injured or die from baseball bats and hammers… According to the FBI they are the #1 instruments of battery & murder!

The Mechanic

Excellent scenario!!!! And I’m sure the 195,000 people die each year because of medical mistakes will be going up also due to most of the really good doctors leaving the profession and pursuing other options. As a few doctors have already done at our family health center. (which by the way it has a sign on the front door) “WE DO NOT ACCEPT OBAMACARE/ PPACA PATIENTS”…….


the number dying at the hands of the medical profession will be increasing, in part due to the mindless penchant for gathering data not related to the emergent medical issue giving rise to the contact with the doctor. The more paperwork they have to mess with, the less time they have for actual patient care, and the more their minds get distracted by the busywork. Distracted people are the most likely to make mistakes.

The Mechanic

You are 100% correct. I have read several articles that doctors are spending less time with patients and much more time collecting data for big brother. This once Great Country is in a sad state of affairs.


its 250,000 now or 8 times the inflated amount used by the anti constitution crowd


Thank you WP. Now I don’t have to Google it.

me brown

All my doctor said on guns, was due to my arthritis in my thumbs, I should switch from a pocket 9mm to a .45 1911.