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Law barring doctors talking to patients about gun ownership undermines public health issue
Date:11/9/2011

easure, saying it effectively barred doctors from talking with patients, or their guardians, about guns and gun safety and violated their First Amendment right to free speech.

U.S. District Court Judge Marcia Cooke of the Southern District of Florida, Miami Division, issued a preliminary injunction in September prohibiting enforcement of the law. The state has said it would appeal but has not done so as yet. After the Florida measure was signed, Alabama, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma and West Virginia introduced bills that also would bar physicians from asking about guns in the home. However all of the bills died when those states' legislative sessions ended, an AAP spokesperson says.

Gunshot wounds account for one in 25 admissions to pediatric trauma centers in the United States, according to the AAP, which also notes that a gun in the home is 43 times more likely to be used to kill a friend or family member than a burglar or other criminal. AAP and American Medical Association guidelines cited by Fleegler and colleagues "encourage physicians to inquire about the presence of household firearms and support the storage of unloaded firearms with trigger locks and in locked cabinets."

The authors cite data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that found a total of 269,871 people were killed by firearms, including 19,846 children, from 1999-2007. "In 2007 alone, firearm fatalities accounted for over 1 million years of potential life lost. Notwithstanding the personal costs, firearm injuries and deaths result in substantial economic costs as well. In 2005 the combined medical and work loss cost of all firearm injuries and fatalities in the U.S. was $31.7 billion."

The authors emphasize that "guns and ammunition that are stored safely can protect children and youth from suicide and unintentional firearms injuries."

"Morbidity and mortality from firearm injury represent a ubiquitous and costly epidemic," t
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Contact: Beverly Lytton
eAJPM@ucsd.edu
858-534-9340
Elsevier Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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