[UPDATE] Docs Vs. Glocks: Florida Sued Over New Gun Law

By: The News Service of Florida; AP
By: The News Service of Florida; AP


Pushing back against the National Rifle Association, a group of physicians on Monday filed suit in a Miami federal court to nullify a controversial measure prohibiting health practitioners from routinely asking their patients if they own guns and have them properly stored.

In a battle pitting the First Amendment against the Second Amendment, attorneys representing pediatricians and family doctors are asking U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke to throw out the recently approved measure (HB 155) they say steps illegally between a patient and their physician by limiting the types of questions practitioners can ask.

The complaint, filed in the Southern District of Florida, contends that prohibiting what physicians and their patients can talk about is unconstitutional.

“By severely restricting such speech and the ability of physicians to practice such preventative medicine, the Florida statute could result in grievous harm to children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly,” the complaint reads. “The First Amendment does not permit such a gross and content-based intrusion on speech and, accordingly, the court should declare the ‘Physician Gag Law’ unconstitutional and enjoin its enforcement.”

The bill easily passed both chambers along largely party line votes - 88-30 in the House and 27-10 in the Senate.

The legislation appears to have originated after an Ocala couple complained that their doctor had told them to find another physician after they refused to disclose whether they owned guns and how they were stored.

Physicians say questions about gun ownership is often part of routine screenings done in many doctor’s offices, included in a battery of questions including such safety questions as whether poisons are kept in the home or if medicines are safely stored.

Backers say ownership is a constitutionally protected right, making it different from other possible potential hazards doctors might ask about.

Florida NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer could not be reached for comment Monday.

“We pay doctors to be doctors and give us medical care,” Hammer said in an interview with the Capital News Service last week. “Instead, they are trying to be social workers and bring their gun-ban politics into the examining room.”

Lawmakers this year also passed a measure (HB 45) that prohibits cities and counties from passing gun ordinances that are tougher than state law. That bill passed along similar party-line votes in the House and Senate on votes of 85-33 and 30-8 respectively with a few Democrats crossing the aisle.

Originally opposed to the bill dealing with doctors’ questions, the Florida Medical Association withdrew its opposition after changes were made allowing physicians, nurses and other practitioners to ask questions about gun ownership if they feel the patient or a family member might be in danger.


[UPDATE] 6-6 2:30 -

A group of physicians and medical groups were expected to file a lawsuit in federal court in Miami on Monday to try to strike down a recently passed law that bars health practitioners from asking many patients if they own guns. Following the signing last week of HB 155, the complaint to be filed in the Florida Southern District Court contends that prohibiting what physicians and their patients can talk about is unconstitutional. “By severely restricting such speech and the ability of physicians to practice such preventative medicine, the Florida statute could result in grievous harm to children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly,” reads the complaint, filed on behalf of three private physicians and a trio of pediatric and family medical associations. “The First Amendment does not permit such a gross and content-based intrusion on speech and, accordingly, the court should declare the ‘Physician Gag Law’ unconstitutional and enjoin its enforcement.” The lawsuit pits the First Amendment against the Second Amendment, with supporters of the NRA-backed measure saying doctors have no right to ask patients if there are guns in their homes.



The Brady Center to Prevent Gun
Violence is suing to overturn Florida's new law that bans doctors
from asking patients about gun ownership.

The center, which filed the suit Tuesday in a Miami federal
court on behalf of three doctors and three physicians groups,
claims the law violates doctors' First Amendment rights to provide
patients with information and advice on how to reduce risks from

The law's supporters say it's designed to protect patients'
privacy as well as their Second Amendment right to bear arms.

The Brady Center threatened to sue hours before Gov. Rick Scott
signed the bill last week. Scott is named in the suit along with
Secretary of State Kurt Browning, Surgeon General Frank Farmer and
other state health officials.

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  • by NEILL on Dec 11, 2011 at 08:30 PM
    Drs. are not Drs., they are government employees !! Ask me about a gun, and I have two words for you. F___ You !!!!
  • by Anonymous on Jun 11, 2011 at 08:28 PM
    @HB155 The lawsuit is pure baloney. Given the rate of people hurt by armed break ins, number of people injured by armed criminals who end up in the ER and the number of health care providers who carry "heat" to protect themselves this is a lawsuit born of poor intention. Let's not even talk about the people who should be able to defend themselves in the event of a criminal act so they won't end up in the ER or morgue since the police won't get there in time. Been there seen that... Dr.s are not entitled to know everything about a family they are solely technicians who are paid for their expertise. Begs the question as a patient shouldn't we be entitled to know the complete work history and legal entanglements related to our physician's work? If the dr. has a lawsuit or court case in another state and moves shouldn't we know about it when they move here to work? After all this immediately affects the quality of our patient care?
    • reply
      by HB 155 on Jun 12, 2011 at 05:18 AM in reply to Anonymous
      I agree with you 100%. I just posted the bill because it didn't appear that many posters had any idea what the actual content of the bill was.
  • by HB 155 on Jun 7, 2011 at 08:54 PM
    GENERAL BILL Privacy of Firearm Owners: Provides that licensed practitioner or facility may not record firearm ownership information in patient's medical record; provides exception; provides that unless information is relevant to patient's medical care or safety or safety of others, inquiries regarding firearm ownership or possession should not be made; provides exception for EMTS & paramedics; provides that patient may decline to provide information regarding ownership or possession of firearms; clarifies that physician's authority to choose patients is not altered; prohibits discrimination by licensed practitioners or facilities based solely on patient's firearm ownership or possession; prohibits harassment of patient regarding firearm ownership during examination; prohibits denial of insurance coverage, increased premiums, or other discrimination by insurance companies issuing policies on basis of insured's or applicant's ownership, possession, or storage of firearms or ammunition; clarifies that insurer is not prohibited from considering value of firearms or ammunition in setting personal property premiums; provides for disciplinary action. Effective Date: upon becoming a law
  • by Tally XD Location: Here on Jun 7, 2011 at 06:48 PM
    Do the free clinic doctors ask the welfare recipients how many guns are in their family?
  • by Anonymous on Jun 7, 2011 at 05:59 PM
    How can the Brady Center file suit when they have no standing? They could probably file an amicus brief, supporting the doctors, but not the actual suit.
  • by Surly Location: Grrr on Jun 7, 2011 at 05:44 PM
    "Just change doctors, it is that simple..." LOL. Tell that to a woman who has 4 kids and lives in the country -- in the middle of an appointment -- and then try to charge her for the the visit. Don't harass people about what they own -- it's that simple.
    • reply
      by Tallynole on Jun 7, 2011 at 09:58 PM in reply to Surly
      I really hope you are not this paranoid in real life...
      • reply
        by Surly on Jun 8, 2011 at 07:08 AM in reply to Tallynole
        Personal attacks don't alter the facts -- it was a similar event that brought this issue to my attention. Don't know exactly what your game is, but the truth apparently has very little impact on your rhetoric -- which make your overall intent clear enough. Same goes for doctors who claim they need to know what houses have guns so they can "give proper medical care to the children that live in them." What a ludicrous excuse to use when trying to impose your political values on people -- and gathering personal data to further that end. Doctors are not dictators or cops, but some sure act they want to be...
        • reply
          by Tallynole on Jun 8, 2011 at 11:30 AM in reply to Surly
          Once again, you don't like the questions your doctor asks, find another doctor. It really is that simple.
  • by Dennis Location: North Carolina on Jun 7, 2011 at 05:26 PM
    It is none of my doctor's business if I own a firearm or a hammer or a chainsaw. It is an invasion of my privacy for him to ask questions outside the purview of the medical field.
  • by Dr. Feel Good on Jun 7, 2011 at 03:33 PM
    He's the one that they call Dr. Feel Good, he's gonna take away your guns!
  • by Thom on Jun 7, 2011 at 02:30 PM
    People who are afraid of their doctor asking this question are like a lamb being terrified of the rabbit in the grass while being led to the meat market by the big-corporation Tea Party.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Jun 8, 2011 at 08:50 PM in reply to Thom
      Hmm, ok, give just ONE example of a good medical reason for a family doctor to ask if there are guns inside a home of a patient?
  • by Rudy Location: 4976 McKnight Road on Jun 7, 2011 at 01:58 PM
    Why don't we just ban guns so that we don't have to have discussions like this. We will not truly be free until the government takes away people's guns and allows doctors to practice mediceine freely!!!! Come on SHEEPLE! Open your eyes!
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