Lawmaker: Doctors shouldn't be asking patients about guns

Rep. John Fleming (R-La.), who was a family physician before coming to Congress in 2009, argued on Wednesday that doctors have no right to ask patients about their status as gun owners, as an executive order from President Obama would encourage them to do.

"I came to Congress as a family physician with great concerns about the federal government intruding on the doctor-patient relationship," Fleming said. "By his executive actions today, President Obama is pushing the government further into the exam room.

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"He's trying to press doctors into government service by pushing them to ask patients, even child patients, if there are guns in their home. After more than thirty years of operating a family practice, I can tell you it should not be the business of a family physician to take inventory of the guns in a patient's home."

One of Obama's executive orders on gun laws would clarify that the 2010 healthcare reform law does not prohibit doctors from asking their patients about guns in their homes. Another seeks to equate gun violence to a disease, as it calls on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to research the "causes and prevention of gun violence."

"There are existing laws which ensure that doctors alert law enforcement to criminal activities that they become aware of in the course of their practice," Fleming said. "And, we certainly need to be sure that people who are a known danger to others do not have access to guns.

"But, calling on doctors to ask patients if they have guns in their homes is another step toward the nanny state that Washington liberals dream about."

Obama signed 23 executive orders Wednesday, none of which appear to put any restrictions on gun ownership, and instead deal with issues like federal information on background checks, safe gun ownership campaigns and developing response plans for incidents of violence.

But Obama also asked Congress to pass legislation that would ban military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips.