An Upstate lawmaker is changing a bill he introduced in the state House of Representatives that would ban doctors from discussing gun safety with their patients.
Rep. Joshua Putnam, R-Piedmont, said backlash from doctors around the state has forced him to reconsider the original intent of House Bill 3416.
“Some doctors, they don’t like the way it’s worded right now,” Putnam said. “I’ve been working with the Medical Association. I have an amendment that will make them happy.”
Putnam’s original bill, which 56 other Republican lawmakers have signed on to support, would make it illegal for a doctor to ask a patient if he or she owns a gun. The bill lays out three exceptions — doctors could ask a patient about gun ownership if he was being treated for a gunshot wound, was mentally ill or was being abused.
The amended bill would essentially shore up the status quo, Putnam said. Discussing gun safety with patients would be left up to individual doctors — they can choose to talk about it or not.
Rep. Mike Sottile, R-Isle of Palms, said he supported the original bill, but needs to take “another good, hard look” at it.
“Honestly when it was first presented to me, I thought it made sense,” Sottile said.
When he decided to support the legislation, Sottile said he had not considered how it may be important for pediatricians to talk to young children about gun safety.
“I don’t mind telling you when my daughter came along, I had a handgun and I got rid of it. I didn’t feel comfortable having it in the house,” Sottile said. “I think gun safety is paramount. Whatever you can do to help people own guns and be responsible with them, I don’t have a problem with.”
South Carolina ranks 13th in the country for firearm deaths, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, which tracks a variety of health benchmarks in the U.S.
Gerald Stoudemire, president of Gun Owners of South Carolina, said he likes Putnam’s legislation as is.
“Why would my doctor want to know what guns I have if I’m not a mental subject?” Stoudemire said. “The only person that needs to know that is their gunsmith — people like that. The average person, just because they have children in their home, it’s really not in the doctor’s place to talk about that.”