In a session marred by the introduction of many truly absurd bills, the Kansas Legislature has outdone itself with the Second Amendment Protection Act.

Among merely silly elements, one outrageously intrusive feature stands out: Doctors would not be permitted by the state to inquire whether patients own guns.

As a family physician, my responsibilities extended to both nuclear and extended families. When I performed a routine well-child exam for a tot approaching toddlerhood, I asked where caustic or poisonous items were kept and urged parents to be sure they were effectively child-proofed. I asked about child restraint use in vehicles. And I asked if there were guns in the household or in any home where the kids routinely spent time.

These too, I advised, should be secured against access by inquisitive kids, including older ones.

No one ever became irate at my inquiries -- it was self-evident that they were both sensible and motivated by sincere concern. Although many parents had identified drain cleaners' and insecticides' hazards, they often hadn't even thought of their guns in the same light.

During the treatment process for a man suffering from severe depression, I asked if he owned guns and if he'd ever been tempted to shoot himself. He did, and he had.

"Could you leave these with Mickey (his son) for a while, until you get to feeling better?"

He could, and he did.

Later, he told me that conversation saved his life.

It's ironic that a cabal of arch-conservative know-nothings, who reflexively and vehemently condemn government intrusions into the private life of law-abiding citizens, would even consider outlawing insightful medical care just because it involves gun issues.

Jon Hauxwell