Don't Ask Gun Bill Introduced

By: Michael Peltier, The News Service of Florida Email
By: Michael Peltier, The News Service of Florida Email

Tallahassee, FL - Doctors and other medical providers would be barred from asking patients - or the parents of child patients - if they have guns in their home under a measure that promises a major showdown between powerful lobbying groups.

The National Rifle Association’s top Florida lobbyist and a Florida Medical Association member both say the issue is among the top priorities for the session, with the groups holding diametrically opposed positions on what doctors and their patients and families should be allowed to discuss during a medical visit.

Sponsored by Rep. Jason Brodeur, R-Sanford, the bill (HB 155) would make it a felony for a physician or staff member to ask patients or family members of patients if they own guns or store guns at home. If found guilty, the medical provider could be fined up to $5 million or face up to five years in jail. The measure has been referred to three House committees but has yet to be scheduled.

Gun-rights groups say the measure was prompted by complaints from gun owners following an incident this summer in which an Ocala area physician told a couple to find a new pediatrician after they refused to answer questions about whether they had guns in their home and how they were stored.

Marion Hammer, executive director of United Sportsmen of Florida and a former national NRA president, said the gun rights groups have no opposition to a physician’s office handing out brochures on gun safety, but the direct questioning on whether there are guns in the home of a patient and how they store them goes too far.

“Simply, it’s none of their business,” Hammer said.

Critics of the measure say it inappropriately puts a wedge between doctors and their patients by restricting what can be discussed. They say questions regarding gun ownership and how weapons are secured within homes is much like a pediatrician asking the parents of a child if their electric outlets have protective covers, or whether their pool is fenced in.

“No other area of physician inquiry has been deemed off-limits by the Legislature,” said Naples pediatrician Dr. Scott Needle. “ Pediatricians have a right and a responsibility to ask appropriate questions as to a child's safety and well-being, even if these questions might be uncomfortable to the parents; likewise, however, no parent can be legally compelled to answer such questions.”

The bill is one of three being tracked by gun rights groups for the 2011 Legislative session. Also on the radar is a bill (HB 45) sponsored by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, which would prevent local governments and state agencies from enacting gun laws that prohibit the ownership of weapons.

Another measure (SB 234) sponsored by Sen. Greg Evers, R-Baker, relating to the carrying and storage of firearms in vehicles.

Evers is expected to file a Senate measure similar to Brodeur’s in the weeks to come, Hammer said.

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  • by em Location: Durham NC on Jan 23, 2011 at 03:56 PM
    I would hate to have government come between me and my doctor...where have I heard that before? What is a psychiatrist supposed to do with a suicidal or homicidal patient? And as far as I know, guns don't cause allergies...just death.
  • by Anonymous on Jan 13, 2011 at 05:36 AM
    HUH!This is the dumbest thing I ever heard of. What business is it of thiers? I think the government put them up to it to get a count of just how many people do own firearms. I would tell my doctor, break in and find out.....
  • by GV Location: Ga on Jan 13, 2011 at 05:05 AM
    Anonymous,what ailment would a gun cause someone that the doctor sould know about?Do guns cause allergys?
  • by Mike Location: Tallahassee on Jan 12, 2011 at 05:29 PM
    That this has gone so far is ludicrous. How could anyone think that such questions from someone who even after decades doing something still says what they do is "practice" is appropriate! Its just insane.
  • by Max Location: Tallahassee on Jan 12, 2011 at 03:24 PM
    It is none of their business, period!
  • by Anonymous on Jan 12, 2011 at 12:10 PM
    truth, What if you have allergies, It would be common for you Dr to ask about animals, and other things that are commonly associated with allergies.
  • by Anonymous on Jan 12, 2011 at 11:44 AM
    dogtired, I've overseas (in Muslim countries). I did have a bible, and was never in fear to practice my faith. If you are afraid to practice your faith, then is it really faith, or something you do when you feel like doing it.
  • by truth Location: fl on Jan 12, 2011 at 11:33 AM
    when i go to the doctor with a cold they have no need to know what's in my home !!!
  • by dogtired on Jan 12, 2011 at 08:58 AM
    Dear surprise and Anon (Jan 12, 2011 11:17 AM)... I haven't mis-read anything. All men being equal and those certain inalienable rights of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness are recognized in our country's Declaration of Independence as endowed by our Creator. Man (our Founders) wrote this. Their beliefs (and ours to this day) are only valid here in America and conditionally here if you pay attention to history. If you have trouble believing that, try asserting those inalienable rights in other countries. Let me know how that goes. As for the Bill of Rights in our Constitution, those Amendments, (Articles 3 thru 12) were written by Man (James Madison drafted them) and were written in order to " prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution." No mention of God (Creator) in there.
  • by Anonymous on Jan 12, 2011 at 08:17 AM
    dogtired , You are right in that the Bill of Rights was created by man. But also remember that the context of the Bill of Rights it accepts the fact that there certain rights granted by God and not man.
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