As a doctor, I’m going to keep asking about guns

Let’s set aside for the moment the question of whether it’s appropriate to talk about gun control in the wake of the shootings in Aurora, Colorado (though I can’t think of a more appropriate time to talk about it). And let’s not consider whether it makes sense that it’s legal to buy thousands of rounds of ammunition on-line in the U.S, without any background check (though could it, really?) And let’s not revisit that old argument about people, and not guns, killing people (though millions of “people,’ including evil and deranged people, do seem to live in countries with negligible amounts of gun violence).

What I’m thinking about today is the role doctors and other health professionals do and should play in preventing the 30,000 deaths and many more injuries in which firearms are involved every year in the U.S.

Behind the closed doors of my exam room, I ask patients many very personal questions: about their sexual behavior, alcohol and drug use, domestic violence, and other sensitive issues.

But there are no questions I ask–and I ask them routinely, especially of new patients–that meet with more surprise than these: “Do you own any firearms? Do you keep them locked and inaccessible to children?”

I believe the questions come as a surprise because people don’t usually think of gun ownership as something about which a doctor would or should be concerned.

But according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, homicide, suicide, and accidents are among the top three causes of death for Americans ages 0-54, and these deaths often involve firearms-over 30,000 per year. That’s seven times as many as die of cervical cancer, and nearly as many as die from pancreatic cancer annually.

It’s seems to me difficult to argue that health professionals shouldn’t be as interested in the prevention of gun violence as in the prevention of other causes of death.

Yet, doctors’ role in counseling patients about the potential danger of firearms is controversial, as expressed in this exchange. Some see such counseling as no different than speaking with patients about safe sex, smoking, and exercise. Some see it as an inappropriate intrusion of the doctor’s political views into the patient’s medical visit and an invasion of the patient’s privacy.

This latter view was in the news last fall when a Florida law, subsequently overturned by a federal judge, banned doctors from counseling patients about firearms, and would have imposed fines or even jail time on, for example, pediatricians who inquired about safe storage of guns in homes where children live.

In my own practice, most patients I ask about guns tell me that they don’t own any. This isn’t surprising because Massachusetts has one of the lowest gun ownership rates of any state in the U.S. (and, as it happens, the lowest rate of gun-related deaths).

And it’s possible that some patients don’t wish to discuss their gun ownership with me and choose not to answer my questions about it.

But occasionally I have a conversation such as I had not long ago with a man who lived alone and kept his loaded guns unlocked and accessible. Now and then his young nieces and nephews visited and it hadn’t occurred to him, until I asked, that his firearms might be a hazard to those children.

I’m going to keep asking about firearms, especially in regard to those at highest risk of harm from them: children, patients struggling with depression, patients with difficult family relationships.

As a doctor, why wouldn’t I?

Suzanne Koven is an internal medicine physician who blogs at In Practice at Boston.com, where this article originally appeared. She is the author of Say Hello To A Better Body: Weight Loss and Fitness For Women Over 50

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  • Ginger

    People get so wound up about guns. Our Doctor asks if we wear bike helmets when biking, which we do. It’s not about biking or gun ownership, it’s about safe habits.

    • Vance Grey

      “Safe Habits” are none of the doctors business.

      • Molly_Rn

        Than don’t go see the doctor if you have a gun shot wound or head injury from a biking accident and please don’t expect me as someone who would ban all guns pay for your injury with higher insurance rates.

        • Vance Grey

          After my accident, I’m beginning to think that staple guns should be banned, too!

  • http://www.facebook.com/glen.harness Glen E Harness Jr.

    nsThe first time my doctor asks me about guns will be my last visit with him. It’s absolutely NONE of my doctor’s business whether or not I have guns.

    • http://www.facebook.com/obinna.akunna Obinna Akunna

      As below, luckily there are doctors who care about safety in their home and many patients who appreciate their questioning especially when included with other questions including helmets, drugs, alcohol etc. You gun advocates are loony. Can’t see any reason with you people.

    • Vance Grey

      Exactly. Remember to tell them you own no guns.. otherwise its into the “Gun owners database” you go. THEN find another less nosy doctor.

  • NormRx

    I would tell the doctor It was none of their damn business whether I own a gun or not. I think I am going to ask my doctor if he abuses prescription drugs and whether he drinks too much. I might even ask for him to provide proof.

    • http://www.facebook.com/obinna.akunna Obinna Akunna

      It’s a free country. Luckily there are many people in this country that appreciate a doctor’s concern about the safety in their home.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kirsten-Morris/607142168 Kirsten Morris

        No there are not. All the doctor needs to concern himself with is diagnosing my symptoms because if I’m going to a doctor it’s because I’m feeling like death armed over and side issues will not be appreciated.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jason-Simpson/100001631757606 Jason Simpson

    I’m a pediatrician and I ask about guns too. Accidents are the #1 leading killer of children. Gun accidents are rare compared to other stuff like drownings and MVAs, but they still kill hundreds of kids per year. And I say that as a gunowner with a beretta and a shotgun at home myself.

    Norm and Glen are free to go elsewhere. Good riddance!

    • NormRx

      In 2001 31 kids under 10 and 71 kids under 15 died form gun accidents. The odds of a kid dying in a gun accident is one in a million. This, in a country with 90 million gun owners owning 260 million guns
      Compare that to the following:
      1996-1999—58 kids drowned in 5 gallon buckets.
      2400 kids are either killed or injured from cars backing over them.
      300 kids under 15 die in swimming pools each year. A recent study found that over 800 children drown each year.
      474 kids die each year in residential fires.
      130 kids die in bicycle accidents each year.
      It is much safer for a child to be in a house with guns than in a house with a dog or swimming pool.
      As for your comment. “Glen and I can go somewhere else. Good riddance!” I am 70 years old, the odds of my needing the services of a pediatrician is pretty remote.
      It has been widely reported that 100,000 people die each year from hospital acquired infections, of which 75,000 could have been easily prevented by the doctor and nurses merely washing their hands between patient.
      Sometime ago the press was talking about “drive by deliveries,” insurance companies were requiring women to leave the hospital after one or two days. There was a public outcry and the legislators got into the act.
      I tell pregnant women that I know to get out of the hospital as soon as possible. The most dangerous place for a healthy mother and baby to be, is in the hospital.
      If you truly are interested in saving lives, I suggest you work to clean up your own profession, God knows there is plenty of room for improvement.

  • davemills555

    Safe habits? Huh? Uh, somehow you are comparing wearing a bike helmet to the safe use of an AK-47 or and AR-15 or a 9mm hand gun, right? Okay, let me see if I understand your point. What you seem to be saying is that insane people need to demonstrate safe habits, right? Insane people need to wear their bike helmet, right? Insane people need to use guns in a safe manner, right? But never, never, never forbid that same insane person to legally purchase a gun? Is that your point?

  • http://cognovant.com/ W Joseph Ketcherside, MD

    I am a gun owner, and strong gun rights advocate. I am also a physician and strong patient advocate. I believe physicians should ask about gun safety just like they ask about seat belts and bicycle/ski helmets, and offer suggestions about any gaps they find. This is a service to their patients. It does not have to be preachy – the NRA is one of the strongest advocates for gun safety you will ever find. And the NRA is certainly pro-gun.

    It doesn’t have to even be a question about whether you have guns – one can just ask whether guns are stored safely and/or with a trigger lock as if it was assumed the person would have a gun. No implication that there is something wrong with being a gun owner. Given the large number of hunters, people who are concerned about home safety, people who like sport shooting, and those who just happen to have a gun I don’t believe it’s a great leap to assume your patients have a gun in the home and to just address safety as routine maintenance.

    Norm is completely right that guns are just one of many hazards out there. He’s also quite right about the number of problems patients face with medical error. And one of the best ways we have to prevent errors is the checklist. So when I take the grandkids to the pediatrician I would love to see a Home Safety Checklist for the kids –

    1. Have you taught the kids how to identify and handle a gun safely?
    2. Do you model safe gun behavior when you take the kids shooting?
    3. Do you lock or otherwise disable your guns when stored?
    4. Have you taught the kids how to handle a knife properly, and how to sharpen and store it?
    5. Do you model safe behavior by always wearing your seatbelt and motorcycle helmet?
    6. Do you model safe behavior by wearing a bike helmet, ski helmet, and your cut-proof gear when speed skating?
    7. Do you keep the gate to the pool locked?
    8. Do you point the fireworks away from your brother and away from the houses with wood roofs?

    Yeah, I’m that grandpa. But you get my point – If we address gun safety as just one of the many skills a well-rounded American youngster needs to learn then it is a good thing.

    • NormRx

      Great post doc. There are a few issues that really get me going, and as you can tell guns are one of them. I really have no objections if guns are listed along with other possible dangers in the home. What I strongly object to are the anti-gun physicians that put guns at the top of the list when it comes to home safety. Guns save more lives per year than are lost through accidents, all one has to do is go to the “armed citizen” at the NRA and view the number of cases where guns are used for self defense. I also strongly object to physicians who think they are the smartest person in the room, just because they have MD behind their name. I sold pharmaceuticals for 30 years and two things that amazed me when I got into the profession was the absolute brilliance of some physicians and some that I thought received their license in a Cracker Jack box.
      As you probably know physicians are a prime target for con men, because they possess two things that con men desire in a victim. They have money and some think they are so smart they they could never be taken. I have a physician friend that was scammed out of $50,000 about 30 years ago, he invested in hydroponic tomatoes.

      • http://cognovant.com/ W Joseph Ketcherside, MD

        Norm, true! And I just put the guns at the top of my little list because that’s the focus of the discussion. In a true safety talk I would lead off with Twinkies and Gatorade – those kill a lot more kids than guns do.

        It is sometimes hard to keep one’s personal views in check when talking about issues with a patient, or any customer. Mr. Cathey’s recent experience with Chik-fil-A illustrates that. And the problem there is you turn people off and they miss the valuable part of the message. Doctors suffer from that affliction as much as any person.

      • http://www.facebook.com/obinna.akunna Obinna Akunna

        Oh I see. When doctor Koven says it, it is nonsense….but if she prefaced it with “I am a gun owner, and a strong gun rights advocate”, all of a sudden it is a GREAT post. You can’t have a commonsensical debate with illogical people.

        • NormRx

          Yesterday, you complained about the pro-gun postings on this site and you stated that you where going to go away. Obviously your word is meaningless, and your views are the same.

      • PaulArkay

        Does the NRA pay you to post on the internet, or is it a volunteer thing?

        It is clear you have little compassion for anything but guns. Attacking physicians for caring for their patients is a petty way further the pro-gun lobby.

        Hopefully one day you’ll wake up from your old west utopian dream, where every man, woman, and child holds a sidearm. Where a big man, such as your self, has the opportunity to protect his family from bandits who just knocked over the town bank with a handful of bullets and his trusty steed.

        Maybe you want to be Dirty Harry, the rogue detective who stops the hold-up of a restaurant on his lunch hour, and saves the girl from the hands of some deranged criminal.

        If you want to do those things, then get a pen and some paper and write a good old story about it. Those kind of stories make good movies and books. Because this is the real world, we don’t need vigilantes, we don’t need to walk around with guns strapped to our hips, most of our society has moved past the need to settle our differences in the dusty streets of Dodge City, thankfully. We can do with a lot less “armed citizens” around here, and we certainly can do without NRA spokesmen trolling the internet ready to draw on anyone who suggests responsible gun ownership.

        • NormRx

          Nope, the NRA does not pay me to post on the internet. As a matter of
          fact I pay them. I am a life member, Ring of Freedom member, Benefactor
          and a Heritage member of the NRA. As for being a troll, I would
          venture to say you are probably a troll in the pay of George Soros and also a frequent visitor of the Huffington Post.

          As for my passions I have several, I am pro-life, anti-circumcision and an advocate of mens issues.

          I don’t attack physicians for caring for their patient. I attack them for using their position to push their anti-gun political agenda with half truths and outright lies.

          Even though I have a concealed carry permit, I do not carry on my person. I do carry when I travel, if I am in a motel room and a gun is readily accessible in my home.

          I have never had to use a gun for defense, however if I should need one I believe I should have the right to have one. The second amendment is quite clear on this issue. I also have fire extinguishers, smoke detectors and home owners insurance, yet I never had a fire.

          Don’t try and get into a war of the minds with me, if you do, you are coming in unarmed.

          • PaulArkay


            I would tell the doctor It was none of their damn business whether I own a gun or not. I think I am going to ask my doctor if he abuses prescription drugs and whether he drinks too much. I might even ask for him to provide proof.”

            This is an attack. You are going to insult your physician if he or she asks if you have firearms in your house. You attack me by insulting my intelligence.

            Though it may be news to you, your physician is asking you this question for your well-being and the well-being of others. Most often this question is asked of expecting or new parents. The physician does not want to know if you have a gun in your house so he can add you to the list of people with guns. The physician wants to make sure you are thinking about the obvious things you can do to make your home safer for your child. Expecting parents are often distracted by the big life change that they are going through, and don’t think to do simple things like pick up guns or put away Clorox or change the batteries in the smoke detector. The physician is concerned about the safety and well-being of his or her patients.

            You are the only one around here pushing a political agenda. Your political agenda is based on fear and intimidation. Why NRA members fear people who respect guns for what they are, I will never know. But your fear is great, your fear of losing your guns overpowers your common sense, it shadows your judgement. You use intimidation to push your agenda onto others, to ensure you never lose your precious guns.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kirsten-Morris/607142168 Kirsten Morris

            It’s time for govt to stop playing Nanny and let adults take responsibility for their actions and deal with the consequences if they don’t. Just like they did when I was growing up. The problem is all these children raised without any discipline due to government interference in the family and their parents fear of having their kids taken away or being put in jail if they spanked them.The people raised without discipline never leaned nor understand responsibility or consequences… well it’s past time for them to start learning it. Some of these murders rapists, thieves etc. might not have followed that path if they’d gotten spanked as a child.

        • American12345

          Every person who recently died in shootings at the Aurora theater and in the temple in Wisconsin would call this poster a damned fool! If they could speak from the grave I assure you they’d strongly advocate carrying a weapon for self defense….but they died and can’t post like this simpleton. At the heart of the matter is this: People in the “Old West” took responsibility for their own safety. These victims assumed others would protect them. These victims took no responsibility for their safety or those they loved. They victims (in Aurora, CO) entered a building where legal handguns were prohibited, (I haven’t done this a single time in 5 years). They were, to be frank, damned fools. Now we look for answers……and blame gun owners for wanting to be cowboys. There’s a solution! FROM MY COLD DEAD HANDS!!!

      • karen3

        You are right Norm. When I was practicing bankruptcy law, all of the partnerships that went belly up, leaving the organizer with millions and the investors holding the bag, — we called em doctor and dentist investments. Cause that was who was so stupid as to own them. Big ego + flattery = gullible. And gullible is the doc who thinks handguns are the big risk to his patients, vs. the crappily run local hospital he or she won’t speak up about or the less than competent referrals made to golf buddies who don’t know a thing or are in the ACO and therefore more profitable. Or, the unproven new drug that cute, short skirted drug rep is pimping, free samples in hand. If you are going to get up in arms, so to speak, about patient risks, those are the biggies.

        • NormRx

          Oh come on Karen, I was a drug rep for 30 years. When I started there was only one women in the business in my area When I retired over half were women and you were right about their looks, we use to call them Barbie’s. But, I couldn’t complain since I was a Ken. All kidding aside when I first entered the field I loved it, I always loved the medical field. It changed over the years for the worst. I would not recommend it to anyone.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kirsten-Morris/607142168 Kirsten Morris

      I don’t want my doctor asking me about guns, seat belts, safety helmets or anything other than what I came to them to address… my health… pure and simple. I am an adult. the choices I make are my own and the consequences of my choices are mine to bear. it is NOT my doctor’s responsibility to discuss anything with me other than actual regarding my health and the symptoms that brought me to their office.

      I had a Gynecologist once that made the mistake of treating me like a 5 year old when I was pregnant with my second child. It was too late in my pregnancy to switch but after she was born I never went back to him again and I made sure every woman I knew in town and the 3 surrounding towns got word of how he treated me merely because my 2nd pregnancy was fairly close time-wise to my first.

      • http://cognovant.com/ W Joseph Ketcherside, MD

        That is the attitude that results in the US having such a poor record on preventive health and health outcomes. Your primary care provider should ask about more than just the sniffle that brought you in – that is the point of primary care. And the topic here generally pertains to people with children in the home – no kids, no questions about kid safety.

        I will tell you that the pediatricians in our health system have a safety list they go through with parents on every well-child check visit as part of their responsibility as a primary care provider. This is not treating you like a 5 year old, and it is not invading your privacy. It is considered best practice in primary care medicine.
        If you are seeing a specialist for a more focused issue, then it is not generally appropriate to have this discussion. That is where the doctor will focus on your specific reason for being there.

  • Molly_Rn

    The gun nuts have an answer for
    everything. Maybe the only way to change their minds is to have one of them
    killed by an intruder who shoots them with their own gun. I really don’t have
    much hope for them as intelligent human beings. They long for the gunfight at
    OK Corral, but don’t see what a disaster it would be if the whole country was packing
    heat. I would argue that the second amendment is actually about the members of
    a militia having the right to have arms (and we are talking about muskets here
    not semi-automatic killing machines) otherwise the word militia wouldn’t even
    be in the sentence. Will stop even reading the rants and raves by this one note
    samba group.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brenton-Adams/100000984027424 Brenton Adams

      Get a clue lady, you’re about ten years behind the times. The founders preserved the peoples right to arms in the Second Amendment and the Supreme Court has incorporated it and upheld it twice in ten years. Your statist ‘militia’ argument falls on its face considering that ‘we the people’ are the militia. along with any nonsense about ‘semi auto killing machines’ should the First Amendment not apply to the internet? Or radio?
      Get a clue. Maybe you coud move to britian or mexico or Chicago, I understand its a gun free utopia over there…

      • Molly_Rn

        The Supreme Court says that
        corporations are people and have the same rights to speech but not the culpability
        for the evil they do. Not everyone was in the militia when the amendment was
        written and no immykal the cannons were not privately owned. If all of the guns were privately owned then why was there a rush to Lexington and Concord to protect the militia’s guns and gun powder which was stored there? And you both must
        only get your statistics from the NRA. Check out the murder rate vs. the US
        murder rate for countries such as Sweden, Finland, Denmark, etc. where they are
        not armed to the teeth. Britain is actually a very pleasant country. Chicago is not a country but part of the USA with the gun laws you love. It’s a waste of time to try to reason with the unreasonable.

    • immykal

      Doesn’t matter what you “argue” – you’re wrong as well as unbelievably misinformed. You do realize that all arms used in the revolutionary war, INCLUDING cannons, were privately owned, do you not? You do realize that statistics show that society is actually safer when law abiding citizens own arms and carry them? Obviously not…

    • http://www.facebook.com/Earl.Needham Earl Needham

      The anti gun nazis have an answer for everything. Maybe the
      only way to change their minds is to have one of them killed by an intruder who
      kills them while they are defenseless. I really don’t have much hope for them as intelligent human beings. They long for a Mexican gun prohibition, but fail to see what a tragedy this has become already. I would argue that the SCOTUS has already ruled that the second amendment is a personal right.

      • Molly_Rn

        You are more likely to die when the intruder finds your gun and uses it on you. Intelligence is not found in owning guns.

        • http://www.facebook.com/TheToad Thomas Duensing

          That “statistic” was debunked many, many years ago. Try again….

        • Mark Alexander

          nor is it found by owning a computer, keyboard and an internet connection

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Danny-Flucke/1526663933 Danny Flucke

      Yes Molly. Thats the answer. Sacrifice more innocent lives as a result of the failed “safety through gun control” agendas. It amuses me how the anti-gunners never have the balls to use their real names – And instead hide behind fake profiles to spew their nonsense.

      New flash: My Second Amendment right – Is the only reason you have a First Amendment right…

      Naive liberals amuse me. Please continue about how you hope more innocent people are killed to further your anti-gun delusion….

  • American12345

    …and we here in Florida will keep watching for quacky doctors and reporting them every time they break the law by asking about personal weapons. I know hundreds of people who keep firearms in their homes. NOT ONE has ever accidentally discharged and killed or injured another, NOT ONE. They must be statistical abnormalities!! Your statistics are quackery, the figures you quote are lies, and you can’t take my gun because I’ll shoot you Doc, hmmmmm, that about settles it. One last thought; What the hell was your plan anyway? To send thousands of men with guns around to collect everyones guns? That’s Brilliant! FROM MY COLD DEAD HANDS…..

    • OldRedned

      And this is a rational balanced gun owner?

  • American12345

    Statistically you are 100 times more likely to have a child die on your property if you have a swimming pool than if you have a gun. Does the doctor ask about pools? I didn’t think so. This is all politically driven crap that quack physicians with political agendas try to push over on patients with low IQ. FROM MY COLD DEAD HANDS…..that’s about all I need to say….why are we debating this closed issue? Perhaps there’s a higher court than the SCOTUS?

    hmmm, NOPE,,,,,the SCOTUS is tops so you lost this argument 3 years ago (actually when the Constitution was ratified). Too bad……

  • OldRedned

    I think we are missing the point of this. It is not about removal of anyone’s ‘right’ to own a gun but the issue of gun safety. Perhaps concerned doctors of Dr Suzanne Koven mind should approach the subject with their patients from a different angle. Start by relating the patient to a recent publicly reported case of accidental injury or death by gunshot – a child perhaps. “Are you a gun owner?” If the answer is ‘yes’ then relate to the devastating wound damage resulting from a gunshot. Now a photograph or two taken at the hospital or autopsy may be appropriate. “You would never forgive yourself if your child suffered such an accident – would you”. “Now about gun safety, how have you ensured your loved-ones safety from gun accidents….?

    • http://agardeninthesun.blogspot.com/ renoliz

      I guess you could start with a story about a case of accidental injury or death by gunshot of a child but there hasn’t been one in the newspapers for years around here and I can almost guarantee there are more guns than people in this state.

      The gruesome pictures idea is disgusting and emotional weaponry that has little basis in fact. But, living in the USA, I’ve become accustomed to the idea that we must fear everything and not let facts get in our way of our viewpoints.

      I haven’t been to the pediatricians office since I have no children but do such doctors routinely go over rules like water should not be above 120 degrees or stoves hould be attached to the wall. And cabinets, too. Do pediatritians routinely ask about pools, pets and how many boyfriends a gal is dating or if the babysitter seems mentally stable and mature? There are so many safety issues, would it be a great idea for a doctor to have a book title or two to give to the parents on safety issues or let them know there is a health department with pamphlets available?

  • boucains

    With all due respect to the topic of “guns”, one aspect of the Aurora event is getting no attention. If you read the details, the alleged perpetrator went inside the theater and propped open an emergency exit, went outside to a car that was parked next to that exit, and donned body armor, etc…

    What would have happened if someone would have investigated the open emergency exit? The same for reporting a car parked where it was. Finally, you don’t don body armor in a cramped front seat, so someone probably saw him outside too.

    The issue is not really guns. Guns are a tool – a method. There are many easily obtainable things that could have been used instead. The issue is that nobody reported or investigated the anomalies at the theater and nobody reported the psychopath *before* he carried out his plan.

    In the US we enjoy an incredible amount of personal safety and this causes us to think “It can never happen to me”. In my mind at least, the consequence – death – from not taking an action is severe enough for me to do something about strange things around me.

    Stratfor Global Intelligence has an article called “The Persistent Threat to Soft Targets” that is an eye-opener. You can find it here: http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/persistent-threat-soft-targets. The final paragraph has two links that everyone should read – how to have situational awareness and how to have a family contingency plan. (I am not associated with Stratfor)

    I know it’s a cliché, but it’s the human who is dangerous. Humans have people around them who notice their abnormal or extreme behavior, be it mental illness, hate or both. *We* are the first line of defense against any violence – a first line that should act before it comes to the point where weapons are used.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gdursteler Gregory Dursteler

    I’m so glad that law in Florida was overturned, it was ridiculous.

  • Mark Alexander

    so are you asking about doctors, who kill more people each year than
    individuals with an inanimate object? Baseball bats? five gallon
    buckets? vehicles?

    my firearms haven’t killed anything that I didn’t want them to kill…so
    instead of addressing the inanimate object why not address the real
    issue – people.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ralph-Warner/1550112631 Ralph Warner

    Does the good doctor also ask her patients if they drive a car ? As a police officer, I dealt with more injury and death from motor vehicles than I did with firearms. So if she wants to save more lives, perhaps she should focus more on people and their safe driving skills, rather than talking about death by firearms.

    Dr. Koven refers to the CDC as a source for information regarding firearm related deaths, but interestingly enough, there are far more pressing concerns like traffic and poison related deaths. Firearms are are at the least #5 on the the list of ways people die. If she’s concerned about children being around firearms, perhaps she should join the NRA, law enforcement, and educators in promoting the “Eddie Eagle” program, which teaches children to STOP, DON’T TOUCH, LEAVE THE AREA, AND TELL AN ADULT.

    I’m sure Dr. Koven is well meaning but she has ventured into a subject that she knows nothing about, and like most people that are ignorant of firearms, merely regurgitates the propaganda and disinformation that anti-gun extremists diseminate.

  • another_engineer

    I hope the good doctor realizes that between 70 and 85% of all shootings are perpetrated by someone with a criminal record — ie: they are not legally allowed to own a firearm.

  • another_engineer

    You are more likely to be killed by a doctor than a firearm. –FACT

    • immykal

      Bingo! We have a winner!

  • immykal

    Medical errors cause 300,000 deaths a year, I think we should outlaw Doctors, they are obviously killers. Just because you’re a Doctor, doesn’t mean you are smart…..

  • http://twitter.com/Luieburger Luieburger

    If your priority is to tell me to get rid of my guns and not to help me stay healthy or get well, then you won’t be my doctor.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004225022172 Ron Johnson

    Thank you Doctor for setting a great example. While we work for a total ban on all firearms ownership there are violent and racist pro gun websites such as one in California who are working hard to strike down all gun violence laws so more children can be slain.

    • immykal

      Tell me Mr. Nazi – are you going to be the brave one that comes to my door demanding I give you my firearms?

  • Jerry Avalos

    Doc, I would be more concerned about Obamacare and how it affects you than the guns in my safe.

  • Vance Grey

    As a patient, I am going to keep LYING to you about guns. The lie is all powerful against the police state.

    “Do you own guns?”

    “No, why?”

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Will-Ford/100003520239018 Will Ford

    So far as I see the good Doc Should SHUT UP about gun deaths compared to how many doctors KILL people

  • Asok Asus

    My physician asking about firearm ownership is less appropriate than my butcher asking about my sex life. A physician asking about firearm ownership is obviously putting their personal political agenda ahead of their concern about my health. Let’s say I go in to see a doctor because I suspect i have hypothyroidism, pernicious anemia, chronic Lyme disease, and/or cardiac ischemia. Now the doctor starts asking me about guns? You’ve got to be kidding, right, doc? Uh, no. Believe me, I’m out the door instantly. I’ve certainly walked out for much less. (Hey, doctor shopping is the ONLY way to find the one or two really good ones out there.)

    It was a fad a couple of years ago to ask this question in my neck of Colorado, and my answer always included some variation of the F-word along with deliberate hostility. Docs have quit asking me this now. Maybe there’s now a special flag in my file, but even docs I see for the first tine quit asking, Maybe the F-word got used a lot, and not just by me. Maybe the docs wised up and decided to refocus their attention on medicine and not politics. After all, I don’t ask my Congressman if I need an MRI or not. At least not yet.

  • lanceparker60

    Let’s talk about my MEDICAL history. Anything else (gun ownership, sexual behavior, alcohol and drug use, domestic violence) is none of your damn business.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=662132748 Lata Potturi Schaedler

      Do you believe those social issues have no impact on your medical well being? Good lord.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kirsten-Morris/607142168 Kirsten Morris

    ” So you say…that if you take away the guns people won’t kill each other? Really, I never realized Cain shot Abel with a .45″

    I like Switzerland’s solution. on reaching adulthood every adult is tained in the usage of firearms and is issued one. Oh… by the way…. Switzerland has one of the LOWEST incidences of violent crimes in the world…. I guess criminals don’t like victims that they know can fight back effectively.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jimrdale Jim Dale

    If you were my doctor you would be fired and I would not recommend anyone to you for any cause. 30,000 deaths are tragic, but so are the 265,000,000 that governments have killed in the past 100 years alone. The vast majority of which were not able to defend themselves.

  • http://www.facebook.com/TheToad Thomas Duensing

    The doctor doesn’t have the facts. Since firearms prevent a crime as many as 2,000,000 times a year, she should be encouraging her patients to own and know how to use a handgun to protect themselves. Further, it is none of her business. It was funny how, in the first sentence, she decides to ignore the idea that asking such a question is none of her business anymore than a patient asking about her medical malpractice cases. MD’s should stick to medicine….

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Christopher-Bruce/100000526192807 Christopher Bruce

    My firearm is safely locked up in a safe at home, continuing to not murder anyone. Neither is the roughly 1,000 rounds I bought anonymously (although to be absolutely fair, at least half of that has been used in the mass genocide of paper targets).

    America has a *violence* problem, and until we stop blaming the tools of violence and start focusing on the causes of violence, we’re not going to make any headway. These utopian countries where firearms aren’t as prevelant naturally have a much lower rate of gun-related injuries or deaths. They also have a much higher rate of violent crime, rape, and murder by other weapons such as knives, bludgenoing objects, or simply being beaten to death.

    Personally, I believe there’s a strong correlation between crime/violence and concentrations of poverty or other types of socio-economic inequality. There’s a reason that the most densly populated areas of the country, with the highest concentration of poverty, have the highest incedents of violence regardless of how draconian their so-called “gun-control” laws are.

    It’s a simple fact: Criminals do not obey laws. No amount of existing laws or new laws will prevent criminals from committing crimes and they will always use whatever tool is available to them. Were we to completely reverse and repeal the 2nd ammendment, mandate that no citizen could own or possess a gun, and collect all of the firearms from every law-abiding citizen (because the criminals aren’t going to turn theirs over), all that would do is create a black-market for weapons in this country just as it has done for drugs.

    I’m not opposed to reasonable regulation and restrictions on who can own firearms in this country, but to date…there have been very few reasonable suggestions for restrictions that might actually serve to limit crime or mass killings because they’ve been based on gross ignorance of firearms and the assumption that everyone, especially the criminal element, will follow whatever law is written.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Danny-Flucke/1526663933 Danny Flucke

    Every time a doctor asks about firearms – I simply get a new doctor. F’em…

  • http://twitter.com/bruceisontarget Bruceisontarget

    Nobody is saying it… the real problem Dr. is the medical record. One of the preppers from the TV show “Doomsday Preppers” had his firearms seized because he stated on the show that he had stopped taking his meds. No consultation, no inquiry… just seizure. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7O9FcUobZ8 What’s to stop seizures in the future if a politically motivated MD prescribes RX to a patient, and then calls ATF requesting they seize his weapons?
    Don’t tell your Doctor anything about your guns… Nothing!

  • 1nameme

    So, doctor, what training do you have in firearms safety? In what way are you remotely qualified to instruct your patients on that topic? No medical school teaches that subject, so unless you’ve been certified as an instructor by the NRA or a like organization that DOES have expertise in firearms safety, you are singularly unqualified to give any relevant advice to your patients. And while we’re on the topic of why you think you should be allowed to do this, do you ask about whether they own swimming pools? Do you ask if they eat hotdogs or peanut butter? Far more people in the US, especially children, die from each of those individually, through drowning and choking, than from guns. And, in fact, physicians as a profession have proved totally ignorant of firearms facts, so much so that they have no business discussing the topic with their patients. Out of the hundreds of peer-reviewed articles published by physicians on the topic, including in prestigious medical journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine, both the CDC and the National Academy of Sciences, in separate independent reviews, failed to find even one single legitimately conducted study. These studies, no doubt, are where you’ve gotten your information. And yet, according to both reviewing bodies, these studies were all so flawed as to be completely worthless in coming to any conclusions at all about gun control or gun safety. Their track record was so bad that Congress subsequently pulled all federal funding of such shoddy “research” by the health care field.

    The fact of the matter is that “gun violence” and “gun deaths” are hugely overblown in the media and in certain political circles. 30,000 sounds like a big number, but in the larger scheme of things, it’s not. First, more than half of that number are suicides. They really don’t belong in the same discussion at all, because as has been shown many times, people intent on killing themselves are just as proficient at doing so by other means (and often in ways that put others at greater risk as well) when they are deprived of guns. Whether through your completely unqualified counseling or through gun control, reducing their access to guns will do little to nothing to reduce their numbers.

    Of the remaining 14,000, the FBI says that approximately 80% are gang-related killings of gang members over drugs, or other such killings of criminals by criminals over disagreements stemming from other illegal activities. That means that your whole “counseling” schtick is being done to address only the remaining 20%, or 2,800 deaths a year, only some of which are due to guns in the home, because it still includes criminal murders like mass shootings, robberies, etc. But even if we lump all those in, that number is only slightly larger than the number of people struck by lightning in the US every year.

    So, essentially, you think that it’s important for you violate your patients’ privacy in order to counsel them on a subject about which you have exactly zero expertise, in order to protect them from a risk that is lower than them being struck by lightning.

  • ToughStuff2012

    Doctors and hospital staff kill more people per year than gun deaths and auto accidents combined….so…….