I have seen several young men in my inner city practice recently who carry around guns everywhere. Two of them have been shot. I don't know if they have shot anyone else.
I am worried about them, but I don't know what to say.
Other than asking them to please not bring guns into my office (none did), I felt sort of tongue tied.
I am sure I am not the only physician out there seeing this. Anyone have anything brilliant they say to young people about guns?
I am not (that) naive. I don't think that some old white lady is going to change anyone's mind with a few sentences. I just want to connect a couple of synapses that may fire every now and again.
I wonder about taking a strictly "motivational interviewing" approach - exploring with them what benefits they expect from carrying a gun (prestige? frighten others? actual use in a conflict?)... and whether there are any potential downsides (ever around small nieces/nephews where there could be a terrible accident? how often are guns used in self-defense vs against the owner?). How has it worked for others they know with guns. Can always end with your "professional advice" being strongly against, if you feel it's necessary... but this might be your best shot at any real chance of influence - plus, as a bonus, you might end up understanding their thinking better, too!
This discussion reminds me of something I heard on NPR several months ago, about the NRA trying to restrict a doctor's ability to ask about gun safety during well-child visits. They claim that it invades the privacy of gun owners. Apparantly they passed a law in Florida that limits a physician's ability to ask about these things during visits, and if they do they could be subject to discipline. I googled this article from the Boston Globe about it...
So we are supposed to ask about seatbelt use and sunscreen according to basic interviewing skills I learned even as a first-year two years ago, but we can't ask if they have a loaded weapon in the house with children? Weird!