Regarding the April 29 news article “Schaffer’s bill would ease gun rules”: As a pediatrician who has worked to pass child safety legislation in our state over the last three decades, I am distressed to see that House Bill 562 would strip me of my First Amendment rights to ask my patients and their families about access to guns in their homes.
Guns are the second-leading cause of death in children over the age of 1 year, second only to motor vehicle injuries. Loaded guns in the home are a major risk factor for suicide and homicide involving children and adolescents.
In our practice, we use a confidential questionnaire to allow adolescents to give us information about a variety of adolescent health issues, among them gun availability. Just as we ask about seat belt and car seat use, smoke alarms in homes and the use of life jackets for children when they are near water, we must ask about the availability of guns in the environments of children and adolescents.
This bill goes way too far in the wrong direction. Legislators must stand up and resist the urge to take health providers out of the equation when it comes to the prevention of tragic injury to children and adolescents.
Dave Tayloe Jr.