Columbia doc­tor has words after NRA’S ‘stay in their lane’ tweet

The State (Sunday) - - Local - BY BRIS­TOW MARCHANT [email protected]­

Deb­o­rah Green­house wants you to know what her lane is.

The Columbia pe­di­a­tri­cian is one of sev­eral doc­tors join­ing a so­cial me­dia storm over guns and doc­tors, spark­ing a fight be­tween the physi­cians and the Na­tional Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion.

“Asked a 6 year old to­day what he would do if he found a gun while play­ing at a friend’s house,” Green­house tweeted Nov. 9. “He said he’d grab it and play with it. His mom was shocked. I wasn’t. It was the most im­por­tant thing I talked about at his well (care) visit.”

Green­house is one of sev­eral doc­tors us­ing the hash­tag #Thisisourlane to talk about gun safety and the dan­gers that firearms can pose to the health of their pa­tients. The move­ment started after the NRA, a na­tional gun-rights or­ga­ni­za­tion, tweeted, “Some­one should tell self-im­por­tant anti-gun doc­tors to stay in their lane.”

The NRA’S tweet came in re­sponse to up­dated gun-safety guide­lines from the Amer­i­can Col­lege of Physi­cians, urg­ing doc­tors to ask their pa­tients whether they have guns in their homes and to warn them about po­ten­tial risks. The NRA has pushed back against doc­tors ask­ing ques­tions about guns, say­ing it could in­fringe on Sec­ond Amend­ment rights.

Sev­eral doc­tors re­acted neg­a­tively to the NRA’S tweet, which came out the same day as a mass shoot­ing in a Cal­i­for­nia bar that killed 12.

Green­house’s re­sponse caught the at­ten­tion of Na­tional Pub­lic Ra­dio, where it was fea­tured Tues­day on the news talk show “The Take­away.”

“They reached out to me on Twit­ter and asked me to do a voice record­ing,” Green­house said Thurs­day, be­tween see­ing pa­tients at Pal­metto Pe­di­atric. “I did it the night be­fore it aired.”

The pe­di­a­tri­cian ar­gues stud­ies have shown young chil­dren are likely to play with firearms if they can get their hands on them, even if they have been told not to. Green­house ad­vises her pa­tients’ fam­i­lies to se­curely lock up their guns and keep the am­mu­ni­tion in a sep­a­rate lo­ca­tion.

“We live in South Carolina. Many of my pa­tients own guns, and I have no prob­lem with that, as long as they are stored safely,” she said.

But Lit­tle Moun­tain gun in­struc­tor Ger­ald Stoudemire is un­com­fort­able hear­ing ques­tions about guns from a doc­tor. The head of Gun Own­ers of South Carolina, which is af­fil­i­ated with the NRA, Stoudemire re­calls a time his long­time fam­ily doc­tor asked him if he owned guns.

“I’ve known him as long as we’ve been around,” Stoudemire said. “I went to high school with him. We played sports to­gether. I went hunt­ing with his fa­ther.

“I told him that had noth­ing to do with my med­i­cal prob­lems, and if he needs to know it to treat me, he knows the an­swer.”

The next time he went in for a check-up, there were no gun ques­tions, Stoudemire said.

Stoudemire doesn’t think doc­tors have the train­ing or un­der­stand­ing to rec­om­mend gun-safety mea­sures, adding he makes sure the peo­ple he trains know how to keep their guns se­cure. He also makes sure his own guns stay out of the reach of chil­dren, even though he has taught his own chil­dren and grand­chil­dren how to han­dle firearms.

“Unau­tho­rized peo­ple don’t need ac­cess to your guns, whether they are un­trained chil­dren, peo­ple with men­tal is­sues or a crim­i­nal back­ground, or some­body break­ing in your house,” he said.

“My guns, when they’re not on me, they’re in locked safes,” Stoudemire said. “Not a cab­i­net, a safe.”

Green­house agrees with those safety mea­sures.

In her more than 20 years in pe­di­atrics, she has had two young pa­tients die from firearm in­juries, in­clud­ing an 11-year-old South Carolina boy.

“He had bounced around from fos­ter home to fos­ter home, and he had fi­nally got to a good home,” Green­house re­mem­bers. “And, then, he was shot in the heart from close range by a BB gun.”

Green­house’s ac­tivism on the is­sue dates to 2010, when S.C. law­mak­ers in­tro­duced a bill that would have pre­vented doc­tors from dis­cussing firearms with their pa­tients. The bill was mod­eled on a Flor­ida law, which since has been struck down for vi­o­lat­ing the free-speech rights of doc­tors.

“I’ve never en­coun­tered a fam­ily that had a prob­lem with me dis­cussing it,” Green­house said. “But they don’t have to fol­low my ad­vice.”

She says, re­gard­less of how the NRA feels about the is­sue, she in­tends to keep rais­ing the is­sue with the fam­i­lies she serves be­cause she thinks it is a nec­es­sary con­ver­sa­tion to en­sure their chil­dren are safe.

“This is why we’re here,” she said. “This is why we do this ev­ery day.”

BRIS­TOW MARCHANT [email protected]­

Dr. Deb­o­rah Green­house of Pal­metto Pe­di­atric in Columbia, SC. Green­house has been out­spo­ken about the dan­gers of gun own­er­ship for years, after two of her young pa­tients died from firearm in­juries.

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