Docs, Gun Groups Compromise on Gun Ownership Questions

By: David Royse, The News Service of Florida
By: David Royse, The News Service of Florida

Tallahassee, FL - Doctors would still be able to ask patients questions about whether they have guns in many cases under a measure approved by a Senate committee on Monday, a result of a compromise between gun rights groups and the medical establishment.

The National Rifle Association and other gun rights groups had pushed for a much stronger bill that would have precluded doctors in many cases from asking patients about whether they own guns. Backers of the measure, sponsored, by Sen. Greg Evers, R-Baker, had said patients were being harassed over gun ownership.

But citing the confidentiality of what is said between doctors and patients, and a broader desire to protect other members of patients’ families, doctors had pushed back hard against the bill (SB 432). The issue had promised a fight between two of the most powerful lobbies at the Florida Capitol.

But an amendment adopted before the committee’s vote on Monday would now generally allow doctors to ask questions about gun ownership, as long as the physician doesn’t “harass” the patient, and doesn’t enter the information into the patient’s record without a good reason. That leaves enough room that doctors now support the measure, as does the NRA.

“We have an agreed-to, good bill here,” said Evers.

While the committee advanced the bill, four members, two Republicans and two Democrats, said they still were uncomfortable with anything that would give doctors pause about asking questions about safety issues, and voted against it.

“I am concerned this degrades and diminishes the doctor-patient relationship,” said Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood. “A doctor should ask about safety in the home whether it’s pool safety, helmet safety or gun safety.”

Sen. Mike Bennett said his opposition was personal – because of his own experience as a child with a father who “chased his wife around” the House with a gun.

“I’ve been there, done that,” said Bennett, R-Bradenton.

“What about the patients’ children? What about the patient’s wife getting a beating every Saturday night?” Bennett asked.

Evers said the new version of the legislation would take care of that concern – allowing doctors to ask questions now, if they feel there’s a valid reason.

“There has to be a justification (however),” said the sponsor of the compromise amendment, Sen. Thad Altman, R-Viera. “The doctor can’t do it arbitrarily.”

The bill also no longer carries any civil or criminal penalties, leaving it up to professional medical boards to police the requirement.

The compromise appeared necessary to get the proposal moving – the bill had been stalled in the Health Regulation Committee for more than two weeks, and even some who voted for it on Monday expressed some skepticism.

The bill still has two more committee stops in the Senate, but Evers gave the panel his commitment that only minor changes would be made in those committees, and that the bill wouldn’t revert to its former form. A similar House bill (HB 155) still has two committee stops there.


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  • by James on Apr 4, 2011 at 08:49 PM
    If there is a record of domestic violence, make it mandatory that the doctor receive this data; otherwise, just tell the doctors that you do NOT have any weapons at all in your house. I am going to look over who votes for doctors to reign supreme over people's private lives guaranteed by the US Constitution, and I will push very hard to make sure they are not re-elected. Like Representative Berman who was so against gun rights recently. I hope she is not re-elected. Too bad she is not in my district so I could make sure a 2nd Amendment Representative is representing me and my fellow Americans watching carefully our right s to protect ourselves in our homes, and hopefully, in a few months, open carry will allow a more solid demonstration of our rights. Such a liberal county a Leon will be a difficult region to conduct open carry though. Too many pencilheaded geeks and McGyvers. Oh, when McGyver was mugged in real life, he bought a gun and got a CCW immediately. Go weenies !!!!!
  • by James on Apr 4, 2011 at 08:41 PM
    Some of you have asked what the doctor will do if you answer "yes" to guns in your house. The doctor will most probably note it in your file. You say big deal. Doctors have a propensity to distort the answers you give based on your overall attitude. They are gods after all. I like one poster's response to just say "no." What can the doctor do if you say no? NOTHING. It is none of his/her business. The reason doctors cannot know all of your business is because there is a move nationwide to give doctors almost ultimate power over your lives, and YOU are paying them. If a doctor places in your file anything negative, you may never see it unless you fight for ALL notes. When you ask for your medical records, you only get topical data. Demand a complete record of EVERYTHING, even the doctor's little notes written in your file AFTER you leave his office. Watch out though... if you get too uncomfortable with your doctor's questioning, he/she can just drop you as a patient without having to explain a reason. Just Say No !!!!!
  • by Kevin aka Reality Location: Monticello on Mar 29, 2011 at 10:07 AM
    Hmm . Stash . Buy . Stash Bury. And when prying little turds ask too many ?s. Lie.:) Heres my answer. Smile . Middle finger. Do your job and have a nice day.
  • by RetiredMarine Location: Tallahassee on Mar 29, 2011 at 09:41 AM
    Never was an issue. No one tells the hired help their business. Why should a doctor be any different?
  • by Lip Cheese on Mar 29, 2011 at 07:18 AM
    It is another secret government conspiracy. Listing gun owner's help round them up the owner's when it's time for the next holocaust.
  • by Anonymous on Mar 29, 2011 at 06:50 AM
    What's he going to do if you say yes?
  • by Smith W. on Mar 29, 2011 at 05:19 AM
    Good conversation, you know ice breaker right before he sticks his finger you know where........
    • reply
      by Lip Cheese on Mar 29, 2011 at 07:11 AM in reply to Smith W.
      Ha! Ha! Moon River!!!
  • by Mike Location: Tallahassee on Mar 29, 2011 at 04:55 AM
    Its none of your business.
  • by I laugh... on Mar 29, 2011 at 04:27 AM
    ...at paranoid conservatives.
  • by Anonymous on Mar 29, 2011 at 04:08 AM
    Just answer NO to the question, none of there buisness.
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