Mass Attorney General Urges Doctors to Talk Gun Safety with Patients

Should doctors counsel patients on gun safety?

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey believes they should. In fact, this week Healey partnered with the Massachusetts Medical Society (MMS) to develop materials that doctors could use to talk gun safety with their patients.

“Most medical professionals believe that they can have an important role in preventing gun-related injury and death, and yet screening and counseling about guns remain uncommon,” AG Healey said.

“While the vast majority of gun owners are responsible and deeply committed to gun safety, this remains a public health issue, and conversations between patients and health care providers are critically important to preventing gun-related injury and death,” said Healey.

The materials consist of brochures and a voluntary online training program. Topics covered in the online program include gun-licensing laws and reporting obligations, guidance on patient privacy, how to approach certain conversations, and clinical scenarios to consider, according to the press release.

Topics covered in the pamphlets include making guns less accessible to children and anyone with a behavioral health condition, disposing of an unwanted gun, and advice on what to do when a gun owner is at risk of violence, suicide, or accidental injury, according to the press release.

“We are pleased to partner with the Massachusetts Medical Society in developing these materials for health care providers, who are uniquely situated to engage their patients about keeping themselves and their families safe,” said Healey.

Massachusetts Medical Society President James S. Gessner, M.D. also praised the initiative.

“Gun violence is a major public health threat and physicians can play a key role in curbing the violence by educating patients about the risks of gun ownership and encouraging our colleagues to talk to their patients,” said Gressner.

“We are honored to work with the Attorney General and law enforcement officials in efforts to make gun ownership safer and reduce deaths and injuries attributable to guns,” he said.

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At first blush, this seems like a nice idea. Why not have medical professionals talk gun safety with their patients?

But that presupposes that doctors know more about guns and gun safety than their law-abiding and responsible patients who own them, regularly shoot them, hunt with them and/or carry them for self-defense. Put another way, how is a non-gun owner — doctor or no doctor — going to tell me something about gun safety or storage that I don’t already know or haven’t thought deeply about?

It’s like saying that I would be perfectly suited to counsel my proctologist on lifestyle choices and treatments to alleviate hemorrhoids after reading a pamphlet and watching an educational video. I may have a cursory understanding of the matter after being exposed to the educational material, but let’s not forget who the expert is, who has years of experience in that domain, who truly knows the ins and outs of the subject.

As Healey herself freely admits, the “vast majority of gun owners are responsible and deeply committed to gun safety.” Right. We are. So, we don’t need to be “screened” for firearms (is that like a cancer screening or something?) nor do we need to be educated on the “risks of gun ownership.” We’re keenly aware of what it means for ourselves and our families to keep loaded firearms in the home and on our persons.

By virtue of this fact and by Healey’s own admission, it appears that the target of this joint initiative is the small fraction of individuals with guns who are too stupid, too lazy or too mentally unstable to realize that firearms are lethal weapons and should be treated accordingly.

Now let’s think about who really makes up this small fraction of individuals. We are, of course, talking about minors, felons, drug addicts, mental defectives, those with chronic suicidal ideations, you know, all the people who cannot lawfully possess firearms in the first place. Yes, those are the people who are responsible for the overwhelming number of shootings, gun deaths, and gun suicides.

The question that Healey needs to ask herself is whether this effort will actually reach those people (How frequently do criminals and drug dealers visit the doctor’s office?) Moreover, will it have any effect on their behavior (How receptive are criminals and drug dealers to a physician’s advice)?

My take is that, like most nanny-state initiatives, this is nothing more than a feel-good program that may sound good to some on paper but will have no real world impact. What it will do, however, is allow Healey to add to her growing list of misguided actions ostensibly designed to reduce gun-related violence. There’s no doubt that she has political ambitions that reach beyond the office of attorney general. And over the past year or so, she’s been padding her resume by targeting law-abiding gun owners:

Massachusetts AG Healey Hands Out Fine to Dealer Selling Glocks

Judge OKs Healey ‘Consumer Safety’ Investigation of Glock

State Attorney General Puts End to Sale of Black Rifles in Massachusetts

NRA Sues Massachusetts Over ‘Assault Weapon’ Ban

{ 20 comments… add one }
  • Derek Tiller February 18, 2017, 5:47 pm

    Hahahahahaha, over 250,000 people die a year from medical malpractice. Why don’t they address that first?

  • skipNclair February 17, 2017, 1:18 pm

    Just when you thought stupid could not get any stupider, you read this, Doctors stick to medicine, politicians stick to their corruption, and let the people live on with their amendment rights without interference from those that have no business pushing their agendas.

    • Michael Main February 17, 2017, 10:43 pm

      I couldn’t stand to watch it all. Let me summarize and “code” what I say so that you can still publish it. To them I say: FY!! KMA!! There are relatively few accidental discharges and yes they are truly regrettable. I was raised “gun safe”. Why aren’t their kids? Why isn’t gun safety taught in public schools? Your actions are insincere. What kind of deplorable Libertard would rather gather for a social arm rubbing event than engage in a true safety teaching event? Most of the discharges that they reference are probably intentional. I don’t care if it is “trash on trash” as long as they aim straight. So many criminals in the system on a ” catch and release” basis. How many of the shootings that they bemoan were done by people who weren’t even supposed to have access to weapons?

      I believe that here is a FBI statistic that there are more medical errors causing death that gunshots. Can you research that? We already register and license health care professionals so how is that one doing to protect us?

      FWIW I am a nurse and they make me want to puke. As a Retired Veteran I am appalled by their lack of intellect when addressing a basic question of responsibility with a weapon that goes along with basic rights to possess one. I hope that they can find another country that thinks like them and if they need help with moving costs maybe I can help start a crowd funding site for them.

      Thank you.

  • krinkov5.45 February 17, 2017, 12:49 pm

    I suggest next time Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey does a press conference that she wear a clown outfit and put on make up and big red Bozo nose to get some credibility.

  • krinkov5.45 February 17, 2017, 12:41 pm

    That’s like the nurse or paramedic telling the pilot how to fly the helicopter. Healy your Marxist stupidity and tyranny has no bottom.

  • Jay S Leonard February 17, 2017, 11:58 am

    My Doctor started asking me about guns,I told him to PISS OFF,NONE OF YOUR DAMN BUSINESS!!!!

    • Jay S Leonard February 17, 2017, 11:59 am

      Healey is a TURF MONSTER!!

  • gary February 17, 2017, 11:27 am

    Where did they get their gun safety training??????????? Not in a Hospital. do they an in door range in their offices to give live fire training for weapons safety orientation????? Leave this to a Professional in the field, do want your meat cutter schooling on vehicle maintenance a Catholic Priest on Marriage even though he himself can not marry or allegedly have a relation with a female??????

  • rt66paul February 17, 2017, 11:24 am

    Give these guys a break. While many of us read and live guns, there is a Yuge segment of the population that are gun owners and might not know everything about his gun and haow to secure it. If you live in ‘da hood, where are you going to go to practice and/or get training? You have to carry your gun on the bus or other public transport and then walk into a range that might have people in there that do NOT want you to be there.
    You break a few laws before you are even able to ask for assistance. Since you aren’t going to local stores that stock gun safes and you may not know many other “good” citizens in ‘da hood, how are you to get info? You damn sure don’t want to ask a cop.

    Pamplets are a good start. You do not have to say you have one at home, but that you want to be educated on safety.
    Another point here, is the guy that did 2 years for selling pot 30 years ago, and has been a working/family man ever since. He may want to protect his family, but he is an ex-felon and even if he got his rights back, he doesn’t want others knowing, especially extended family members.

  • Paul Revere February 17, 2017, 11:12 am

    If she had been a Massachusetts government official in the 1770s, we all would be British subjects today.

  • R.Gleaton February 17, 2017, 10:03 am

    Why should I pay a doctor to lecture me on guns, I seriously doubt she knows more about them than I do.

  • RS February 17, 2017, 10:01 am

    With the patient load, reporting requirements and time constraints on office visits, it’s difficult to fully cover the medical purpose for the visit. The doctors don’t want and can’t afford the time for this. for agreeing to this the Massachusetts Medical Society President James S. Gessner should be removed by his constituents.

  • Charles W. February 17, 2017, 9:19 am

    The instant my doctor starts talking guns other than as an enthusiast I get up, walk out and go find another doctor. I will not accept this invasion of my privacy. I have two doctors and a dentist all who are shooters and generally we avoid the subject because of their potentially over sensitive staffing.

  • mrmike February 17, 2017, 9:15 am

    maura healey has a liberal anti gun, anti male, lesbian agenda….and it shows. massachusetts voters need to get her out of office before her head swells up so big she tries to become governor.

    • MB February 17, 2017, 10:18 am

      Yup, and R.I. got stuck with nut job Gina Raimondo kinda same way. Now gun owners there will have to beat back a bill to limit magazines to 10 rounds and also rifle transportation restrictions bill on top of existing handgun transportation restrictions. Moved to Texas to gut away from this crap.

  • Kim Campbell February 17, 2017, 8:54 am

    Good comments, all. I would still say that there are citizens out there who own guns but have not trained or educated themselves or their families in gun use and storage. I would rather the medical professionsals (of which I am one, a physicians assistnat with almost 40 years experience) refer them for an NRA safety course. That would be the intelligent thing to do. Given most cities, the health progfessionsals’ first piece of advice should be to stay away from felons and gangbangers. Clean out the infestations of drug dealers and thugs in the neighborhoods. Most firearms injuris are deliberate crimes, not accidents or accidental discharges. Education and training can deal with the AD’s. To really deal with the “epidemic” of gun violence, they should demand local and federal prosecutors to vigorously prosecute gun felons. That, my liberal friends, will bring down the epidemic!

    It goes without saying that criminalizing responsible, law abiding gun owners is about the stupidest, most Hitlerian thing a politician can do. Let’s remember these officials next election time.

  • Blasted Cap February 17, 2017, 7:15 am

    Hey doc, under the patient privacy section does it cover, it’s none of your God damned business if I own a gun or not? OK so take it off the forms you have me fill out everytime I go into your office.

  • Paul February 17, 2017, 7:07 am

    Most Doctors have no business discussing this; My doctor was raised with guns, hunting and Gun safety though….still not her job to instruct me on gun safety. I passed that test long time ago with my Dad teaching and when I got my 1st hunting license…As I will instruct my kids from home

  • Tom Horn February 17, 2017, 4:43 am

    Yeah, maybe doctors will start making house calls to make sure our furnaces aren’t leaking carbon monoxide, check to see if we are using our chain saws and power tools properly, make sure we have safety treads on our stairways, and no slip rugs on our floors to cause injury. Hey Big Government, get out of our lives!

  • Christian February 16, 2017, 11:54 am

    Even as a layman, I do know what guns can do to your body: Serious injuries that maybe can never be healed and leave you paralyzed for the rest of your life or they give you death instead and a horrible amount of pain as well in both cases. This is all I need to know, so what different things doctors could tell me?

    Another thing is that I do not believe doctors that much because they earn money with every patient. Especially the medicine industry can only earn money with people that are sick, otherwise no one would buy their medical products and believe me it is a profitable business. So, I do not believe that these doctors have actually an interest into getting the number of people being shot down. I think this is all just for show.

    At all, this only shows me another stupid move of Attorney General Maura Healey and how important it is that she should be fired out of office and allow a pro 2nd amendment Attorney General to take the field.

    And listen in the video at 6:40 what Maura Healey has to say: “Every month, 51 women are shot to death by intimate partners.” Hey, Attorney General: What about all the men that are getting shot by their girlfriends, wives and especially their angry female ex-partners? I guess you don’t care because you are a lesbian, don’t you? A real Attorney General would care about the safety of ALL people, not just about one of the two sexes.

    It is time to change many things in Massachusetts. A new Attorney General and cutting the many horrible gun laws in that state are good moves in my eyes. Can they happen? Yes, if the people of Massachusetts would fight together against their state government and tell them that they are the people and that they know what is going on and what needs to be done. Not some politicians who believe that civilians don’t know anything about gun related issues and therefore doctors have to tell them anything about it. The normal hard working people are not unknowing children, they are intelligent adults, at least the majority of them. They don’t need politicians and doctors to tell them something obvious.

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