New Gun Law in Florida Might Land Me in Jail!

Share |

Gun Law in FloridaAn anticipated new Gun Law in Florida might just land me in jail!  While it is presently setting its sights on medical doctors, particularly pediatricians, it’s only a matter of time before other child specialists, like myself, will be targeted, as well.

A law passed by the Florida legislature and likely to be signed by Republican Governor Rick Scott would make it a crime for doctors to counsel parents about gun safety in the home.

In her May 6 column, Yahoo! News Staff Writer Rachael Rettnew reported comments by Dr. Louis St. Petery, a pediatrician in Tallahassee, Fla., and executive vice president of the Florida Pediatric Society. “We feel that physicians will be reluctant to ask about guns in the home as a result of this legislation. As a result we expect that, unfortunately, there will be an increase in injury and death of children and adolescents due to improperly stored guns,” said Dr. St. Petery.

Supporters of the new Gun Law in Florida, including the National Rifle Association (NRA), say they want to stop doctors from invading their privacy, and are concerned the information may be used against them by insurance companies. Similar legislation has been proposed in Virginia, West Virginia, AlabaGun Law in Florida 2ma and North Carolina.

Dr. St. Petery is a gun owner who believes it is vital for doctors to be able to ask about gun safety in the home.

“Injury prevention is a standard of pediatric health care at every well-child visit, starting in infancy,” said Lisa Cosgrove, MD, president of the Florida AAP chapter. “Discovering potential risks, such as the presence of a gun in the home, and providing education on how to prevent injury is central to the practice of pediatric medicine.”

But Marion Hammer, former National Rifle Assn. president and executive director of the Unified Sportsmen of Florida, the NRA’s state legislative affiliate, said the AAP has been critical of gun ownership for years. “Families take their kids to pediatricians for medical care, not to talk about guns,” she said.

If the new Gun Law in Florida passes, parents could report doctors who inquire about gun ownership to the Florida State Medical Board. The board can then impose disciplinary action, which may go as far as taking away the doctor’s license to practice medicine. As a compromise, doctors can ask about gun ownership if they think the child is in imminent danger. But pediatricians say this wording is subject to interpretation, and they object to being penalized for doing something they believe to be in the best interest of the child.

“I would think there should be a law that says if you don’t [council parents about gun safety], that should be malpractice,” said David Hemenway, a professor of health policy at the Harvard School of Public Health who studies injury prevention.

Gun Law in Florida 3According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), a gun in the home is 43 times more likely to kill someone known to the family than it is to kill someone in self-defense. Furthermore, states with the most guns at home have suicide rates double rates of states with the fewest guns, and those suicides are often children. Children over age 14 are at greater risk for suicide if they have access to guns, studies have shown.

Studies overwhelmingly show that, for the average family, it is better for the health of the children if a gun is not kept in the home, Hemenway said. This is also the position of the AAP.

But if you do own a gun in a household with children, here are steps to protect children, according to the AAP:
• The gun should be locked up.
• The gun should not be loaded.
• The ammunition should never be stored with the gun, and should be locked up.
• Keys to locked boxes should be hidden.

Parents should also find out if there are guns at the houses where their children play. If so, parents should have a conversation with the gun owners to make sure they properly store their guns, the AAP says.

As for me, I am committed to keeping kids safe. Finding out if there are guns in the home can be just as important to know when dealing with curious toddlers, acting out kids or suicidal/homicidal teens. I will continue asking the questions necessary to keep my kids safe…in spite of the new Gun Law in Florida!

What do you think about this new development?

Please feel free to write a comment about the new Gun Law in Florida in the box below.


10 Responses to “New Gun Law in Florida Might Land Me in Jail!”
  1. Andrea says:

    If you go to the health department, or your primary care physician, typically once a year they ask a series of questions pertaining to your lifestyle or if anything has changed, i.e diet, smoking, sexual partners, etc. I know this because they ask me. They also ask if you feel safe in your home.

    So you’re not asking if there are guns in the home, you’re asking if they feel safe. If a child says no, then what? Are you allowed to probe the child in a way to ask why they don’t feel safe. If the child says “my mommy and daddy have guns at home” then what?

    It is the practice of the physician, and should be the practice of the parents to always make sure that their child is safe.

  2. Dr. Vicki Panaccione says:

    Well, the governor signed this into law.

  3. Ray says:

    It’s really not the business of doctors, priests, government, or anyone else to inquire about guns in private homes.

    Do yer doctoring and mind yer own business. What do ya all think of that advice?

  4. Dr. Vicki Panaccione says:

    Pediatric specialists care about the well-being of children, and are trained to instruct in safety practices for potential dangers to kids, whether it’s chemicals under the sink, light sockets, a home pool or a gun. Helping parents keep their kids safe is an important role of any specialist who works with kids.

  5. julie pilcher {julie} says:

    I believe Dr.’s, Dfcs,or other child specialists, should be required to ask about guns in the home. My Daughter of 31 years of age was murdered by a 10 year old boy with her 19 month old daughter right there with her. Thank God she wasn’t harmed physically, but witnessed this murder (which was not an accident). What effects will this have on her? The boy was going through dfcs and seeing a psychologist. I am now checking into gun laws in Georgia and hope to get much more information so something this tragic will not happen to another family.

  6. Dr. Vicki Panaccione says:

    I am so sorry to hear of this tragedy. Thank you for sharing this with others. Getting proactive in your state is a great action to take.

  7. kcgunesq says:

    So, Dr. Vicki, what other laws do you feel entitled to ignore?
    If you knew a parent was violating a law concerning child care,
    I’m certain you would report it. Why shouldn’t you be reported
    for doing exactly the same thing?

  8. Dr. Vicki Panaccione says:

    What a great question! Although the article was written a bit tongue in cheek, I would take responsibility for my actions. If it’s a matter of the safety of a child or keeping my mouth shut, I’ll choose the child and take my chances with a judge. Fortunately, this hasn’t been an issue as I’m usually a very law-abiding citizen who serves as a positive role model for parents and kids.

    And just for clarification, there are only three circumstances by law that I can and have to report to authorities: if a child is being harmed, if a child is harming him/her self or is about to harm someone else. Otherwise, the confidentiality of parents and kids is highly protected in my office, and the offices of any other reputable psychologist.

    Thank you for your comments!

  9. Nike air max says:

    WOW just what I was searching for. Came here by searching for gun law in


Check out what others are saying about this post...
  1. says:

    New Gun Law in Florida Might Land Me in Jail! : Better Parenting Institute…

    An anticipated new Gun Law in Florida might just land me in jail! While it is presently setting its sights on medical doctors, particularly pediatricians, it’s only a matter of time before other child specialists, like myself, will be targeted, as well…