Fla. Panel Passes "Don't Ask" Gun Bill

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


Doctors would be barred from asking most of their patients if they own guns under a measure that passed in a House panel on Tuesday after it was amended in response to doctors’ concerns – though not enough to win over the medical establishment.

By a 9-6 vote, the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee approved a National Rifle Association-backed bill sponsored by Rep. Jason Brodeur, R-Sanford. The proposal would bar physicians, nurses and other medical personnel in non-emergency settings from asking patients if there are guns in the home, a query backers say oversteps a physician’s authority and infringes on Second Amendment gun rights.

Vehemently opposed by the Florida Medical Association, the Florida Pediatric Society and other medical groups, the bill that originally banned any questions about gun ownership was amended Tuesday to allow medical providers in certain cases to ask about guns, an effort to address concerns of committee members who normally side with the doctors.

“This bill is about taking politics, pure politics, out of the examining room,” Marion Hammer, a lobbyist for the NRA and other gun righs groups, told the committee before the vote.

The bill is being sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Greg Evers, R-Crestview. A constituent in Evers’ district complained when a physician refused to treat her after she wouldn’t say if the family had guns in the home. Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, said constituents in his district also complained of being dropped by their physician when they declined to answer a question about whether they owned a gun.

Such altercations, however, should not be used as a justification to establish such a prohibition in Florida law, said Rep. Perry Thurston, D-Plantation, who voted against the measure and said it will cost lives.

“If this is major problem, we would have heard about it in our communities,” Thurston said. “For me it’s a no brainer. … This bill creates a situation where the doctor is unable to ask a question.”

The amended version of the bill would now allow physicians to ask patients about gun ownership if they believe the the patient or another person is in imminent danger. The question could also be asked during a medical emergency. In those cases, practitioners would be allowed to enter the information into the medical record.

The bill is also now less punitive than the original version, which made it a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5 million fine.

Physicians groups vowed to fight the bill vigorously as it move forward, saying Florida already has a tough time recruiting doctors.

“It really makes Florida out to be a laughingstock and the FMA will work hard to make sure that this bad public policy does not become law,” FMA executive vice president Timothy Stapleton said in a statement after the vote. “Frankly, it is disrespectful and insulting to the good doctors of our state who want nothing more than to help their patients."

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  • by off course on Mar 9, 2011 at 04:01 PM
    TO Anonymous on Mar 9,@1:08: OH that is just idiotic,"If they fail to do this they can only blame themselves". Yes sure, they can blame themselves while their child is laying in a pool of blood.
  • by Human Location: Wakulla on Mar 9, 2011 at 02:34 PM
    I told my doctor i have guns. He has some too. If he wants to promote gun safety that's his prerogative and i have nothing against that. we need to stop banning things because somebody doesn't like something. good grief!! what the heck is the USA becoming????
  • by Kevin aka Reality Location: Monticello on Mar 9, 2011 at 01:42 PM
    If I pay my bills in a timely manner , and need treatment , its NONE of your Business what I do at home or in the Woods.
  • by off course on Mar 9, 2011 at 12:06 PM
    next the dr can not ask if your child wears a bike helmet while riding, or if youn have a car seat.
  • by anon Location: tally on Mar 9, 2011 at 10:44 AM
    GET OUT NRA...I think you used up all of your cognitive abilities in your first sentence. My doctor has no business in my gun vault either.
  • by Anonymous on Mar 9, 2011 at 10:08 AM
    parent, Why is it a pediatricians job to safeguard my children, or anyone's children from guns, cars, std's or anything else deemed unsafe? Their job is to provide medical services period, and nothing else. It is entirely the parent's responsibility to safeguard their children. If they fail to do this they can only blame themselves.
  • by Anonymous Location: Tallahassee on Mar 9, 2011 at 10:04 AM
    From Jennifer McDougald on behalf of Representative Brodeur, District 33 who is the sponsor of the House version of the bill. The intention of this bill is to prevent the violation of an individual's right to privacy. The bill addresses a violation of privacy rights concerning firearms and seeks to prevent future occurrences of such violations. The bill is necessary to protect Florida's families, like the Ullman family of Ocala, who on July 21, 2010, were denied treatment of all three of their children by their physician after their refusal to answer questions on the lawful presence of firearms in their home.
  • by Anonymous on Mar 9, 2011 at 10:00 AM
    What does owning a gun have to do with why I am seeing my Doctor? What BS. Nex they will be tel us we have to wear green underwear on wed. God Help Us!
  • by Don't Be Stupid. on Mar 9, 2011 at 09:47 AM
    A doctor will not ask you about firearms if you have a cold. They are scientists & body failure investigators. They realize that piece of metal used to hurl lead projectiles isn't relevant in that case. It IS relevant when safety becomes a concern, or when the doctor is making an overall healthy lifestyle assessment for you.
  • by Anonymous on Mar 9, 2011 at 09:43 AM
    Truth Be Told, There is no requirement that our legislators (State or Federal) know anything about existing law.
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