Rand Paul Pushes Conspiracy Theory that Obamacare 'Databanks' Gather Information on Gun Owners

The right-wing group Gun Owners of America has for the past few years been pushing the debunked conspiracy theory that the health care reform law will be used to collect information on gun owners, information that will later be used as part of a gun-confiscation scheme.

Speaking with Family Research Council president Tony Perkins yesterday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) echoed that theory, claiming that President Obama’s new executive actions have “language in there talking about doctors being required to report on patients and ask patients if they own guns or not.”

He warned that President Obama’s “going to use Obamacare apparently to have doctors informing on their patients to whether or not they have guns” and will put the information into “government databanks.” He added: “I’m very much opposed to this kind of information going into government databanks because I fear that the time will come when this data will be misused.”

Paul: He’s going to use Obamacare apparently to have doctors informing on their patients to whether or not they have guns.

Perkins: I mean, that’s crazy.

Paul: How exactly he’s going to make this work, I don’t know, but there is language in there talking about doctors being required to report on patients and ask patients if they own guns or not.

Perkins: I read that and I was just flabbergasted…. Senator, not everybody may know this but you’re also a physician so I think you have probably a pretty different perspective on that, not just as a patient but as a doctor. I mean do you want to ask, how are you feeling, got a little fever and by the way how many guns do you have? I mean, how do you work that into the conversation?

Paul: The whole idea that the government is going to be in between you and your doctor, that the doctor-patient relationship which is a very private relationship. In fact it’s part of our Hippocratic Oath that if you come to me and see me and I’m treating you for problems which often can become personal problems and private problems would you want me going down to the grocery store and saying, I just saw so-and-so and he’s got this. You know it’s really not the kind of relationship you want with your patients.

Same way would you want your government to know and does your government need to know what medications you take, whether you own guns. I’m very much opposed to this kind of information going into government databanks because I fear that the time will come when this data will be misused.

Paul’s interpretation of the executive action is, of course, completely off-base, as are his claims about Obamacare.

The White House statement does discuss having doctors talk to patients about gun safety if someone in the home has mental health issues, rebutting the rumor that Obamacare prohibits doctors from asking about gun ownership.

Contrary to Paul’s claims, this neither “requires” doctors to ask patients about gun ownership nor makes doctors give government “databanks” information on who owns guns. A plain reading of the law finds that it explicitly prohibits such data collection:

‘‘(c) PROTECTION OF SECOND AMENDMENT GUN RIGHTS.—

‘‘(1) WELLNESS AND PREVENTION PROGRAMS.— A wellness and health promotion activity implemented under subsection (a)(1)(D) may not require the disclosure or collection of any information relating to—

‘‘(A) the presence or storage of a lawfully possessed firearm or ammunition in the residence or on the property of an individual; or

‘‘(B) the lawful use, possession, or storage of a firearm or ammunition by an individual.

‘‘(2) LIMITATION ON DATA COLLECTION.—None of the authorities provided to the Secretary under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act or an amendment made by that Act shall be construed to authorize or may be used for the collection of any information relating to— ‘‘(A) the lawful ownership or possession of a firearm or ammunition;

‘‘(B) the lawful use of a firearm or ammunition; or

‘‘(C) the lawful storage of a firearm or ammunition.

‘‘(3) LIMITATION ON DATABASES OR DATABANKS.—None of the authorities provided to the Secretary under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act or an amendment made by that Act shall be construed to authorize or may be used to maintain records of individual ownership or possession of a firearm or ammunition.

‘‘(4) LIMITATION ON DETERMINATION OF PREMIUM RATES OR ELIGIBILITY FOR HEALTH INSURANCE.— A premium rate may not be increased, health insurance coverage may not be denied, and a discount, rebate, or reward offered for participation in a wellness program may not be reduced or withheld under any health benefit plan issued pursuant to or in accordance with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act or an amendment made by that Act on the basis of, or on reliance upon—

‘‘(A) the lawful ownership or possession of a firearm or ammunition; or

‘‘(B) the lawful use or storage of a firearm or ammunition.

‘‘(5) LIMITATION ON DATA COLLECTION REQUIREMENTS FOR INDIVIDUALS.— No individual shall be required to disclose any information under any data collection activity authorized under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act or an amendment made by that Act relating to—

‘‘(A) the lawful ownership or possession of a firearm or ammunition; or

‘‘(B) the lawful use, possession, or storage of a firearm or ammunition.’’