Local doctors say they object to laws that intrude on the relationship between a physician and a patient.

“The patient-physician relationship should be a safe and even sacred relationship where the patient feels safe, feels comfortable in discussing anything they need to discuss,” said Dr. Christine Matson, the chairwoman of Eastern Virginia Medical School’s department of family and community medicine. “If there are constraints in terms of what I can ask, that also limits the doctor-patient relationship. I don’t think government ought to go there.”

Matson asks her patients about guns during their routine check-ups. She gives them a seven-page questionnaire that includes a section called “Behaviors that may put your health at risk” with questions about tobacco, alcohol, drugs and environmental toxins, among other subjects.

“Are there guns in your home?” is on page three, between “Ever forced to have sex?” and “A working smoke detector?”

Matson said the screening helps primary care doctors take an active role in promoting health and disease prevention, rather than just reacting to injuries and illnesses that already exist.