Monday, May 9, 2011

Shoot First

Florida is on the verge of passing a law that would make it illegal for a doctor to ask patients about the guns they keep in their homes.

A pending law in Florida would make it illegal for pediatricians to ask families whether guns are being safely kept in their patients’ homes. Supporters of the NRA-backed measure insist that questions by doctors and other health care professionals amount to an invasion of privacy and a violation of their Second Amendment rights.

Pediatricians routinely ask parents about safety concerns in the home like whether or not the family has a pool, if the child wears a bike helmet, or rides in a car seat. To gun advocates, however, questions about the presence of firearms in a child’s environment are intrusive and go too far.

Steven D at Booman Tribune points out why this is a stupid law.

No one’s “Second Amendment Rights” have been violated when a doctor asks a question that would relate to advice he or she could give the parents regarding making their home safer for their children. The pediatricians aren’t members of the government and no one is obligated to answer their question about anything, regardless of whether it would be stupid not to. If you, as a Florida resident don’t want to answer a question from your doctor, no one can make you.

This is what I find most annoying about the far right — or anyone else, for that matter — who lacks a basic grasp of how our Constitution works. It applies to how the government works; what it can and cannot do, and insofar as the daily lives and doings of the citizens, it is pretty much hands off. In fact, it goes to great lengths to guarantee the government is supposed to stay out of the things we do as individuals, including speaking our mind, going to church, assembling peaceably, and owning a gun.

A lot of folks don’t seem to understand that. When Sarah Palin shoots her mouth off and she gets criticized or mocked for it and she claims her First Amendment rights are being violated, her acolytes all nod and agree that it’s just awful how she’s being muzzled. Except that if her First Amendment rights were truly being violated, it would have be at the hands of the government, not Facebook. And besides, if her speech was truly being suppressed, how come we have to still hear her gripe about her rights being violated?

I am all in favor of groups like the NRA standing up for the rights of the citizens. I wish more people would do that, especially when it is not a particularly popular stand in some circles. What I object to is their misuse of the Second Amendment to the detriment of all the others, and their basic misunderstanding — out of ignorance or political motivation — of the rights of the citizens versus the role of the government. Prohibiting a doctor from asking a patient about guns in the house is a freedom of speech lawsuit waiting to happen.