THE CAPITAL, TALLAHASSEE, July 31, 2012 -
Brandon Larrabee, The News Service of Florida
Gov. Rick Scott announced Monday that the state will appeal a ruling barring the state from enforcing the "docs vs. glocks" law, continuing the court battle over the line between patients' rights under the Second Amendment and doctors' rights under the First.
"This law was carefully crafted to respect the First Amendment while ensuring a patient’s constitutional right to own or possess a firearm without discrimination," Scott said in a brief statement released by his office. "I signed this legislation into law because I believe it is constitutional and I will continue to defend it."
The appeal challenges a federal court's ruling blocking enforcement of provisions of the law that would restrict doctors and other medical providers from asking questions about gun ownership during medical visits.
U.S. District Court Judge Marcia Cooke ruled earlier this month that the 2011 law, known formally as the Firearm Owners' Privacy Act, was built largely on anecdotal evidence and that lawmakers couldn't prove that Second Amendment rights would be jeopardized or that patients with guns might face discrimination.
"The state's arguments rest on a legislative illusion," Cooke wrote.
Backed by the National Rifle Association and the United Sportsmen of Florida, the bill (HB 155) was approved by lawmakers and signed by the Gov. Rick Scott in 2011. The bill easily passed both chambers along largely party line votes of 88-30 in the House and 27-10 in the Senate.
Supporters argued that doctors might refuse to treat patients who had guns in their homes or that patients who declined to answer the question might be turned away. They also raised the possibility that patients' privacy rights might be violated if their gun ownership were listed in medical records.
But doctors countered that knowing what is in a patient's home – particularly a child's – gives them an opportunity to advise their patients on how to stay safe.
Dr. Bernd Wollschlaeger, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said he was confident that the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals would uphold Cooke's ruling.
"We are disappointed that precious tax dollars are being wasted for an appeal that is unnecessary," Wollschlaeger said.