I heard a story on NPR over the weekend about a new bill that the governor of Florida is about to sign into law. The bill, crafted with the loving collusion of gun lobbyists, would forbid Sunshine State pediatricians from discussing with parents whether those parents own guns and whether they keep them safely stored away from kids.
Why, you may ask, does the NRA care if doctors discuss this with patients? Silly—it’s because asking the new mom and dad sitting in your office whether they own firearms is intrusive, and a violation of that mom and dad’s Second Amendment rights. And besides, that’s not a doctor’s job. So says pro-gun lobbyist Marion Hammer (of course she’s named Marion Hammer): “We take our children to pediatricians for medical care—not moral judgment, not privacy intrusions,” she told NPR. Because it’s such a moral judgment to inquire if a brand-new parent owns a gun—and not, say, whether he or she owns a car seat, or has a hand-me-down crib that might be unsafe, or smokes cigarettes. The bill is meant to be a blow, Hammer further explained, against “the growing anti-gun agenda being carried out in examination rooms by doctors and staffs.” Oh yeah—that.
Because you know, NRA, what this country really needs is more tragic accidents like this four-year-old in Tacony in March, or this four-year-old in Royersford last August, or this West Oak Lane teen, or any of the other awful, senseless woundings and killings that litter the news. God forbid Florida pediatricians should hurt the feelings of any of the 43 percent of American families that have both children and guns who keep those guns in an unlocked place, without a trigger lock.
Members of Congress routinely rate the NRA as the nation’s most powerful lobby. Shame on those members for caving to its might instead of standing up to gun lobbyists and framing sensible gun-control laws. Shame on Florida governor Rick Scott if he signs this travesty of a bill. Shame on Rick Santorum, while we’re at it, for his career-long pandering to the NRA. And God help the kids in other states where legislation similar to Florida’s bill is being proposed. No other civilized nation in the world runs scared of gun bullies. Shame on us all.