A bill dealing with doctors’ rights to question patients’ firearm ownership and disclose that information will be debated during the Legislature’s veto session, which begins Wednesday.
Under the bill, health care professionals could not disclose information about a person’s status as a firearm owner except under certain circumstances, such as a court order or threat.
Protecting people’s privacy is important as the federal government takes a larger role in the nation’s health care system, State Rep. Paul Curtman, R-Pacific, said.
The concern is that a patient’s status as a firearm owner would be entered into a medical record that the federal government would have access to, Curtman said.
Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed the bill, but the Legislature could override that veto if a majority of at least two-thirds is reached in the House and Senate each.
Moreover, the bill says that licensed health care professionals may not be required by law to ask a patient whether he or she owns or has access to a firearm.
Doctors could also not be required to document in patients’ medical records their status as a gun owner or notify any government entity based solely on a patient’s status as a gun owner or having access to a gun.
Curtman said this is an attempt to protect patients’ privacy. It is appropriate for doctors to ask patients whether they have thought about harming themselves and how they have thought about doing it, he said.
But to specifically ask whether they own a gun is arbitrary since people could hurt themselves in other ways, such as with knives or rope, Curtman said.
Doctors would not be prohibited from asking about or documenting a patient’s status as a gun owner, if the doctor feels the information is needed, the bill adds. However, doctors in Missouri could not use an electronic medical record program that requires them to document whether a patient owns or has access to a gun.
Lower Age for Concealed Carry
Another part of the bill would lower the age to qualify for a concealed carry permit from 21 to 19.
State Rep. Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, said he thinks it is appropriate to lower the age since people at 19 can be sent off to serve the country in the military.
Curtman agreed that if people are old enough to vote and serve in the military then they should also be allowed to have a concealed carry permit if they meet the requirements. He noted that he joined the Marines when he was 17.
The bill would also bar housing authorities from prohibiting tenants from possessing firearms.
Housing authorities would not be liable for damages caused by a tenant’s possession or use of a firearm.
Also under the bill, a person with a valid concealed carry permit may not be prohibited from openly carrying a firearm. The permit would have to be presented upon the demand of a law enforcement officer.
No person carrying a concealed or unconcealed handgun may be disarmed or physically restrained by a law enforcement officer unless under arrest, it adds. Violation of these provisions would constitute a $35 fine.
The bill would also make possessing a firearm while also knowingly possessing a controlled substance, other than 35 grams or less of marijuana or synthetic cannaboids, a Class D felony of unlawful use of weapons.
In addition, the bill would allow school districts to designate teachers and administrators school protection officers who could carry a concealed firearm or self-defense spray device.
The veto session can last up to 10 calendar days.
Usually the veto session is over in one day, but this year it could take longer due to the large number of vetoes.
The governor vetoed 33 bills, and there were hundreds of line item vetoes in the budget.