On August 1, 2009–just seven months into President Barack Obama’s first term–former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin predicted Obama would attempt to leverage health care to “take away” the Second Amendment rights of Americans.
In a speech to National Rifle Association members in Anchorage, Alaska, Palin said Americans should be “wary” of this “tie-in” because Obama would attempt to “take away our rights under the guise of some new health care plan”:
And by the way, [with] health care being so big in D.C. right now, be wary when some kind of tie-in occurs. Because it will crop up: a tie-in with guns in an attempt to take away our rights under the guise of some new health care plan. You know that this is coming–that the two issues will somehow crop up and they’ll be tied together. So we have to be very wary of that.
On Wednesday–more than three years after Palin’s warning–Obama did exactly what the former governor forecasted.
During a press conference wherein he issued 23 executive actions regarding guns and unveiled his gun control proposals, including a ban on so-called assault weapons, Obama said “doctors and other health care providers also need to be able to ask about firearms in their patients’ homes and safe storage of those firearms, especially if their patients show signs of certain mental illnesses or if they have a young child or mentally ill family member at home.”
To make it easier for doctors to do so, Obama also issued executive actions that would “clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.” The White House also released “a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.”
It reads, “we should never ask doctors and other health care providers to turn a blind eye to the risks posed by guns in the wrong hands,” and proposes to:
• Clarify that no federal law prevents health care providers from warning law enforcement authorities about threats of violence: Doctors and other mental health professionals play an important role in protecting the safety of their patients and the broader community by reporting direct and credible threats of violence to the authorities. But there is public confusion about whether federal law prohibits such reports about threats of violence. The Department of Healthand Human Services is issuing a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibitsthese reports in any way.
• Protect the rights of health care providers to talk to their patients about gun safety: Doctors and other health care providers also need to be able to ask about firearms in their patients’ homes and safe storage of those firearms, especially if their patients show signs of certain mental illnesses or if they have a young child or mentally ill family member at home. Some have incorrectly claimed that language in the Affordable Care Act prohibits doctors from asking their patients about guns and gun safety. Medical groups also continue to fight against state laws attempting to ban doctors from asking these questions. The Administration will issue guidance clarifying that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit or otherwise regulate communication between doctors and patients, including about firearms.
As Breitbart News reported, the American Medical Association (AMA) had sent the Obama administration a letter urging the White House to pass more strict gun control measures. The letter, which was signed by the AMA and 52 other organizations, used the Sandy Hook massacre to note that a ban on so-called assault weapons was “a step in the right direction,” called for a “ban on high capacity magazines,” and “requested increased funding” for medical programs from the White House:
More resources are needed for safety education programs that promote more responsible use and storage of firearms. Physicians need to be able to have frank discussions with their patients and parents of patients about firearm safety issues and risks to help them safeguard their families from accidents.
This battle over whether doctors should be able to ask patients about firearms is playing out in Florida. Physicians in Florida took the state to court over a 2011 law that “prohibits them from asking patients if they own a gun. Florida lawmakers and the NRA viewed such questions as a threat to the Second Amendment right to bear arms.”
According to Medscape Medical News, chapters of the various medical associations, in addition to individual doctors, sued Florida in a federal district court “to overturn what they called a gag law on gun questions.” A District Court judge struck down the law as unconstitutional by invoking the First Amendment.
Florida has appealed the ruling, and the case is pending before an appellate court in Atlanta, Georgia.
The NRA, which filed a friend-of-the-court brief, said the Florida law “exhorts doctors to stick to practicing medicine… rather than pushing their own political agendas, and it protects patients from doctors who refuse to do so.”
More than three years ago in her speech (blogger “KentonAK” first revealed the existence of the footage), Palin noted–to the Alaska NRA members–she was the only person on either ticket during the 2008 election who was a lifetime member of the NRA.