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Florida Doctors Settle Case Over Ability To Ask Patients About Firearms

Florida Doctor
"So, Ms. Jenkins, here are your pneumonia meds... oh, wait, before I hand these over... are you one of them gun nuts?"

Florida Gov. Rick Scott approved a $1.1 million taxpayer funded settlement for doctors who challenged law barring them from asking patients if they had firearms in their home. This settlement, while expensive, ensures that a controversial law is kept in place that ensures gun owner’s privacy.

Dan Gross, president of the anti-2nd-Amendment Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, fumed that, “Florida taxpayers just paid $1.1 million because of the gun industry’s unconstitutional, anti-truth agenda designed to increase gun sales at any cost — including children’s lives. The gun lobby wants Americans to believe a gun in the home makes them safer, but 89 percent of unintentional shooting deaths of children occur in the home, often because of easily accessibility of unlocked, loaded guns”

Gross continued, saying, “Physicians have a critical role to play in preventing these deaths by talking to patients about the true dangers of guns in the home, and we will not allow their voices to be silenced by the gun industry. This award is a message to states to think twice before enacting or defending laws that put lives at risk just to boost the gun industry’s bottom line.”

Back in 2011 a bill called the Firearm Owners Privacy Act was passed that restricted doctors from asking their patients if they have guns in their homes. The bill noted a doctor would be subjected to $10,000 in fine in the event that he was found in violation of the law.

The National Rifle Association supported the bill as it allowed doctors to no longer be bothered with recording information in a patient’s file about as to whether they owned a gun or not.

In a legal alert, the H.B. 155, the National Rifle Association stated, “doctors should refrain from asking about gun ownership by patients or family members unless the doctors believe in ‘good faith’ that the information is relevant to medical care or safety. Also, the law seeks to prevent doctors from discriminating against patients or ‘harassing’ them because of owning firearms.”

However, the doctors from all across the state were not quite content with the decision and sued, arguing that it is important for doctors to be given the authority to discuss gun control with their patients.

The law was upheld twice, over the past three years, as Judges Gerald Tjoflat and L. Scott Coogler stated in their majority opinion for the second ruling. “The purpose of the act, as we read it, is not to protect patient privacy by shielding patients from any and all discussion about firearms with their physicians; the act merely requires physicians to refrain from broaching a concededly sensitive topic when they lack any good-faith belief that such information is relevant to the medical care or safety of their patients or others,’’

However, the law was challenged yet again early this year and received a decision that sided with the doctors. While, the NRA argues that “Just because some activist’s judges agreed with them doesn’t make them right.” It seems that the only losers in this “Docs vs. Glocks,” showdown are none other than Florida taxpayers.


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