Half of surveyed households have children who are regularly exposed to firearms, but only a handful report speaking to a pediatrician about firearm safety, according to a survey by Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
In fact, according to one-third of more than 1,200 parents surveyed for the study, published in the Journal of Pediatrics, any offer of advice by a physician regarding firearm safety or removing guns from the home would be considered offensive or simply ignored. Most parents, however, did express a willingness to have that conversation with a pediatrician.
Thirty-six percent of respondents said they had firearms in homes with children, and the majority of those survey participants owned more than one firearm. An additional 14 percent who had no guns at home reported their children visit homes of relatives or friends who do keep firearms.
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"Many physicians feel a professional obligation to discuss gun-violence prevention, but they don't because they are not sure what to say or what they're legally allowed to say," study co-author Jane M. Garbutt said in a statement.
In Florida the state legislature passed a law, the Firearm Owners Privacy Act, banning doctors from having a conversation about guns in the home with patients. Twelve other states have considered similar measures, though the Florida law is currently being litigated in a case of that sets up a clash between the First and Second Amendments, widely reported as "Docs vs. Glocks."
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) endorses physicians talk about firearms in the house with parents. Pediatricians are advised to advocate safe storage of guns if not removal of firearms entirely, the latter being the safest approach given the dangers posed to adolescents.
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