MD Magazine® Poll on Curbing Gun Violence Finds Most Doctors Have Guns

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Physicians Also Tend to Have Strong Opinions on Gun Control Issues

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55.34 percent of responding physicians said they own guns, with about two-thirds of those saying they use their weapon primarily for personal protection.

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MD Magazine, an online and print publication with a national physician readership, surveyed 1,700 U.S. physicians (928 of whom responded) and found that 55.34 percent said they own guns, with about two-thirds of those respondents saying they use their weapon primarily for personal protection.

Additional key findings of the physician’s poll on curbing gun violence showed that:

  •     Most physicians own guns and use them for personal protection.
  •     Physicians are split on whether they have a role in curbing gun violence.
  •     A majority of physicians support stronger gun control.
  •     Nearly all physicians who support more gun control favored increased background checks, and 41.5 percent favored a ban on concealed weapons.
  •     Most physicians said the American Medical Association (AMA) should not take a stand on gun control.
  •     More than half of respondents said they have never asked a patient whether there is a gun in the patient’s home.

Those opposed to asking said they felt it was none of their business. Among those who said they do ask, many said it was routine in cases when there is a suicide risk or other psychiatric concerns. Some commenters indicated that the question was part of a standard form new patients fill out. The issue has become a point of contention, as some states have passed laws limiting physicians’ ability to ask about guns and gun safety. The AMA’s House of Delegates last year voted to oppose such laws.

The survey also found the respondents were split on whether physicians have a role to play in curbing gun violence. Of 901 who responded to a question on that topic, 43.6 percent said no, it is not something doctors need to do. But 40.3 percent said, yes. Overall, more than 16 percent of those who responded wrote comments, with feelings often running high. For example, one physician who said, no, commented “There are too many burdens already placed on physicians.”

But those who said, yes, stressed that gun ownership is hazardous. “We’ve had several children lost to handgun accidents and our practice has had a few suicides by handgun,” said one physician, “Discussions about gun safety go on in my clinic.”

More than half of physicians polled felt more gun controls are needed. Of those who answered a question on which controls they favored (608 respondents), more than 93.7 percent said that should be in the form of better background checks. But when asked if physicians should be directly involved in curbing gun violence, more respondents said it was not their job, than said it was a health issue in which doctors should play a role. As for organized medicine getting involved, a majority agreed the AMA should not take a stand on gun control.

About MD Magazine
MD Magazine is a comprehensive clinical news and information portal that provides physicians and other health care professionals with up-to-date specialty- and disease-specific resources designed to help them provide better care to patients. Readers have access to breaking news, video interviews with physician experts, in-depth conference coverage, finance and practice management updates, insight and analysis from physician contributors and other multimedia resources. MD Magazine is part of Michael J. Hennessy Associates, Inc., a full-service healthcare communications company offering education, research and medial media.

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Michael J. LaCosta
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