NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Gun Owning Physicians Are Likelier To Counsel Patients On Safety

October 10, 2000

A survey of a representative sample of members of the American College of Physicians and the American College of Surgeons finds that the likelihood that physicians counsel patients on gun safety issues increases if they: 1) own a gun and 2) are a member of a gun club or firearms organization.

  • Almost one third (29 percent) of the doctors reported owning a firearm, and 64 percent of the firearms owners reported owning at least one hand gun.
  • An equal proportion of owners and non-owners agreed (93 percent) with the general statement that "safety counseling is appropriate provider behavior."
  • However, only 19 percent of doctors reported usually including firearm ownership and/or storage in patient safety counseling, but gun owners were twice as likely and gun-owning gun-organization members were three times as likely as respondents overall to provide such counseling.

Contrary to their greater propensity to provide counseling, however, only 49 percent of gun owners who were members of gun organizations agreed that doctors "should be involved in firearm injury prevention," compared with 83 percent of doctors overall.

Additionally, gun owners and gun organization members disagreed with the statements that "safety training should be required for anyone wanting to buy a gun," and that "firearm injury is a public health issue."

Source: Elise C. Becher, Christine K. Cassel and Elizabeth A. Nelson, "Physician Firearm Ownership as a Predictor of Firearm Injury Prevention Practice, American Journal of Public Health, October 2000.


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