Back in 2011 I went to a gun show somewhere in York County, PA and had a wonderful time. It wasn’t just the fact that I could play with lots of guns. It was because everyone at the show seemed to be in a good mood, the atmosphere was festive, the people friendly, the home-cooked chow was great and even my wife bought some jewelry from a local craftsman who had a table across the aisle from the show sponsor’s exhibit, which of course was an exhibit for the NRA.
Gun licenses and concealed-carry permits spiked in York County after Sandy Hook, but even before that unspeakable event, York was always known as a gun-rich zone. York often ranked even or higher in gun licenses with much more populous counties, and in the clamor following Sandy Hook, the County Sheriff had to open a special office to process CCW applications because his regular staff was overwhelmed with concealed-carry requests.
So I found it interesting that the local Fox television affiliate that covers York County, Channel 43, ran a story yesterday about doctors asking their patients about guns, and to my pleasant surprise, it was a well-researched, well-balanced and fair piece which isn’t something that usually shows up when guns are the topic on Fox. Notwithstanding their claim to be “fair and balanced,” Fox gives virtually unlimited media time to NRA apologists like John Lott, who continues to promote the dangerous nonsense of expanding gun-free zones in the face of overwhelming evidence that shows such jurisdictions to be no more safe than places where guns are banned.
Yesterday’s article begins by quoting a York resident who was “shocked” when his pediatrician asked whether he owned guns. But it turned out that when the Fox43 reporter posted this issue on the channel’s Facebook page, a surprising number of comments came from people who didn’t register the same degree of alarm. Here’s an example from a woman who identified herself as the recent purchaser of a 9mm pistol: “ I’ve been asked by my children’s pediatrician. They simply wanted to make sure it was kept out of their reach in a safe spot so my kids are safe. I don’t see the big deal unless someone has something to hide. All gun registrations are accessible by the public. Its not like its top secret!”
Of course a majority of the Facebook comments were the usual “none of their GD business” that you would expect from a gun-owning population in an area like York, PA. But there were enough replies similar to the one above that no doubt played a role in the balanced approach of the piece. The story noted that Obama’s Affordable Care Act prohibited physicians from sharing information about guns, despite the oft-heard comment by gun-owning diehards that the ACA is a back-door scheme to help Obama take all the guns away. The story also quoted a family physician, Joseph Cincotta, who correctly stated that the question was motivated by concerns about safety, not about the ownership of guns.
In the interests of being fair and balanced, the reporter also contacted the NRA whose spokesperson, Catherine Mortensen, trotted out the usual bromide about how doctors have no right “prying into your personal life.” Following from this flight from reality I guess that when a teenager shows up at the health clinic complaining about a rash that turns out to be a sexually-transmitted disease, the examining physician shouldn’t ask the patient whether they engage in unprotected sex, or even whether they engage in sexual activity at all.
The article contained two quotes that took the position that doctors shouldn’t ask patients about firearm ownership, and five quotes from physicians and everyday individuals justifying the physician’s right to ask patients about guns. I would expect that kind of coverage from a media outlet in places like Boston and New York, but an article favorably inclined towards doctors talking to patients about guns in York, PA?