Thursday, January 17, 2013

Said the Doctor, Show Me Those Guns

This is not primarily a political blog.  I do my political venting elsewhere.  What I try to do here is offer insight to the kinds of stories I write, and create content that will please my readers.  When you have read my books, you will be able to deduce where I stand on values and principles, but not because my characters are overly interested in politics.  I strive to make people think, thrill to make them feel, invite them to converse with me even if we don't agree, but that latter one I've always done elsewhere.

I take this brief jaunt into the political spectrum here today only to toss out some thoughts and see how you feel about them.  The subject here may make you cringe, but hopefully some of it will make you laugh.  I cannot say that I am clever or quick enough to have crafted these quotes all myself, but I wanted to share them because you may need them, or something like them, in the near future.

Recently President Barack Obama, whom I disagree with on most everything, but whom I pray for often, decided to sign into law a policy requiring your family doctor to inquire and make note of your gun ownership, and report back to the government about it.  Presumably he meant well, in that if more doctors were discussing guns with their mentally unstable patients, there would be less suicides and homicidal massacres.  Probably not every gun owner is responsible enough to keep guns where children cannot access them and the ammunition stored elsewhere, so yes, there may be valid reasons why a doctor might legitimately pry here.  But what it really means is, if you lie to your doctor about this, you will be committing a crime, even if there's no mental illness in your family, nor dangerous tendencies.  Whether this lie could be construed as a punishable false statement under the law, now that your doctor is an employee of the government, is a good question we should ask ourselves before answering his questions.

No one wants to visit the doctor, but can you imagine the next time you have an unfortunate rash or swollen tonsils, your family physician has to cover a requisite checklist with you concerning how many guns you own, what type, and where you keep them?  Are they loaded?  Exactly what measures have you taken to keep them out of the hands of your children, and how consistent are you with this?  What is the combination to your gun safe (all right, that one might not be required by law)?  All you want in that visit are some topical cream or antibiotics but you are shoved, unprepared, into a conversation that neither you nor your doctor really want to have.  Do you realize that what you say in that moment, when your guard may be down because you or your child don't feel well, could affect the rest of your life?

It has been supposed that once gun owners have been identified, and now that health insurance is the government's business, and since accidental death in the home is a leading cause of the loss of children's lives, that you will be charged higher rates on your healthcare premiums.  Perhaps your name will go onto a list of homes to be listened in on, or of families whose social media or private e-mails or texts now exhibit just cause to be monitored into perpetuity.

I don't have legal advice for you.  I don't know what kind of relationship you have with your doctor.  Many of the following ideas of how to answer these newly required questions without lying could be just as dangerous as lying, or even as telling the truth.  But here, submitted for your enjoyment, are a few of my friends' suggestions how to answer your doctor's question about guns in the home:

Do rocket launchers count?

We have several to spare - what do you need?

Yes we do, but I'm not sure how many.  My 8 year old cleaned them all last week, though, so maybe you should ask him.

Are you talking about the registered ones, or the unregistered?

Other than the loaded one I have with me?

That's for me to know, and for some sorry-assed, misguided home invader to find out.

Let me ask the voices in my head how they want me to answer.

Say "no", stare off into space for a few moments, head off-kilter, then laugh softly and menacingly.

If I told you, I'd have to shoot you.

Nunya.  You want me to spell that for you?

My gun is not at home right now, if you know what I mean.

You'll have to excuse me.  My hearing seems to come and go these days.  Could you repeat the question?  (repeat this answer until your doctor sees the light)

Actually, a better way to handle this, whether you have guns or not, is to ask the doctor directly, "What does that have to do with my visit here today?"  It's not a yes.  It's not a no.  It's not an invitation for your doctor to schedule you for a psychiatric evaluation.  Best of all, it's answering the government's question with another question, which your doctor may be able to chuckle over, but will hopefully make the government bureaucrats' heads explode.  Lying should not be an option, regardless of your faith or creed or lack thereof.  There are many scenarios in which a lie on a form such as this could be used against you in court in the future, regardless what it's about.  And to say, "None of your business" will be treated as defiance when the doctor has to report back to the government, because it will imply that there is indeed business to be known.  I think what I will say, politely, is, "It is none of your business what I do or do not own, but I can assure you that any firearms in my home would be securely stored."  Say it a few times right now, word for word.  Remember it.

Truth is, this'll probably be handled by the nurse who charts your blood pressure and temperature before you even see the doctor.  Most health care professionals probably don't even know yet that they've been legally deputized to become governmental snitches - possibly unwilling cogs in a machine they may or may not approve of.  Medicine is now a branch of the government, like it or not.  Dr. Big Brother is about to become far too interested in things you consider private, so get ready.

As for the doctor insisting that your child (or even teenager) speak to them privately about this matter, I would strongly urge you to prepare for that eventuality.  First, go into the exam room with your minor child every time, if at all possible.  This is beneficial for myriad reasons.  Second, research your Reverse Miranda rights online.  So far as I know, we still possess the right to deny governmental officials entrance into our homes without a warrant.  We are still allowed to remain silent when we fear what we say may be used against us, whether a government official (with or without a medical degree) has read us our rights.  Our best option may be to answer the firearms-in-the-home question, "No comment."  Children need to know that they cannot be forced to answer the government's questions, and in fact should not be put into positions where they could be.  Have this talk with them before the next check-up!

It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the months to come.  Will the form that reminds health professionals to ask us all these questions feature a simple yes or no checkbox?  Will it be repeated annually or on every visit?  Who gathers this information from doctors, and how often, and what action is taken based on it?  The thing is, we may all now be required by law to answer questions we don't want to answer, and I for one, want to be prepared with the effective equivalent of, "These are not the droids you're looking for".

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