Should Doctors Ask Patients About Guns?

The Joint Committee on Public Health last Tuesday heard testimony on House Bill 2005, An Act to Prevent Gun Violence, which would mandate that the state Department of Public Health create a program to “systematically screen all patients for the presence of firearms in the home.”
The bill from Rep. Jon Santiago (D-Boston) would permit DPH, after consultations with medical groups, to issue regulations “establishing (1) the means by which and the intervals at which patients shall be screened for the presence of firearms in the home and (2) guidelines for safety counseling for individuals that screen positive for the presence of firearms in the home.”
The Gun Owners' Action League of Massachusetts slammed the bill in a blog posting, saying it “treats simple gun ownership as a disease.” Boston Health and Human Services Chief Marty Martinez testified that, “We know that gun safety is a public health issue. As such, doctors are uniquely positioned to help prevent gun-related injury and death.”