Florida doctors defend right to discuss guns with patients

NEW YORK Mon Jun 6, 2011 7:26pm EDT

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - A group of Florida physicians filed a federal lawsuit on Monday seeking to overturn a new state law that limits doctors' ability to ask patients about guns in the home.

The lawsuit, filed in Miami federal court, says the new law is an unconstitutional ban on physicians' free speech and prevents them from counseling patients on firearm safety.

The statute, titled "Privacy of Firearm Owners" and signed into law by Florida's governor last week, prohibits healthcare professionals from asking patients about gun ownership unless the information is relevant to the patient's medical care, safety or the safety of others. The law also bars practitioners from entering the information into a patient's medical record.

"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 lawsuit said.

Lane Wright, press secretary for Florida Governor Rick Scott, said the law defends patients' right to bear arms and protects gun owners from potential discrimination and harassment. The law does not prevent doctors from having medically relevant conversations about guns with their patients, he said.

But the plaintiffs -- three individual doctors and the Florida chapters of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American College of Physicians -- alleged the law is "so vague, overbroad, and ambiguous" and the penalties so harsh that doctors will steer clear of any discussion of gun safety with their patients.

Physicians who violate the law risk losing their medical licenses and face fines up to $10,000 per offense, according to the complaint.

The suit, filed by lawyers with the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and law firms including Ropes & Gray, named Governor Rick Scott and four other state health officials as defendants and requested an injunction blocking the state from enforcing the law.

(Reporting by Terry Baynes; Editing by Jerry Norton)

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Comments (3)
Shootist wrote:
“yammering yada yada . . . and prevents them from counseling patients on firearm safety.”

As if ‘doctors’ know a f-ing thing about firearm safety. I can hear ‘em now, “don’t put the barrel in your ear”. meh.

“Happiness is a warm gun. Bang bang shoot shoot.” – John Lennon

Jun 06, 2011 8:34pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
beenbetter wrote:
I don,t believe this Law violates your First amendment rights. You can have any attitude you want concerning Firearms. You can have any publications you want in your waiting rooms concerning firearms safety and spout any antigun rhetoric you want. But as far as putting on my Medical Record that I am a firearms owner, I believe you would be violating my 2nd Amendment Rights and my 5th Amendment Rights also, and possibly violating BATFE regulations concerning firearms records.
But just to be fair I did some research on the Internet and found some surprising facts. Yes, firearms are in the top ten for causes of deaths in the U.S. behind Motor Vehicle Accidents by the way, but the real kicker is the number three cause.PREVENTABLE MEDICAL MISTAKES and INFECTIONS, that claim approximately 200,000 LIVES a YEAR. Numbers one and two spots are Heart Disease and Cancer. Maybe your energies would be better spent finding cures for One and Two and cleaning up your own reputations for number Three.
And as far as the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, what happened, you can,t spell the word Firearms. What constitutes a Gun,I,ve got Guns. I have a Grease Gun for lubricating my car,a Glue Gun for bonding items together with adhesive, Caulk Gun for filling cracks. If I had a Nail Gun, I could join those two pesky 2×4,s together that keep falling over.
Bottom line as I see it, the Brady Center has had setbacks to their agenda in open confrontation with their opponents. They are trying to do an end run using you Physicians as dupes in their campaign.
You Physicians might want to ask yourselves if the Brady Center will be there for you in a possible Civil Rights Lawsuit.

Jun 07, 2011 1:43am EDT  --  Report as abuse
EagleII wrote:
The new version of the bill that passed is a compromise between gun rights advocates and the Florida Medical Assn., are you suing the later as well?

“The FMA is satisfied that the current bill, with the compromise language, allows physicians to continue to look out for the safety and well-being of their patients,” said FMA Executive Vice President Tim Stapleton. “The FMA is also pleased that the compromise language removed all civil and criminal penalties related to the patient-physician relationship.” The original bill would have fined physicians up to $5 million and sentenced them to up to five years in prison for asking about patients’ gun ownership, refusing to treat patients who won’t answer such questions or entering gun ownership information into any record.”

They should have left the bill in it’s original format with mandates intact. Now I see that socialism has invaded the medical profession ( truly NAZI tactics of the left ) we will seek out Doctors who are gun owners and who are on the front lines fighting you left wing ideology.

The truth and nothing but the truth so help me God ( Yes I said it “GOD” ): Gun-related questions in doctors’ offices are based on a medical political movement against gun owners. That movement is led by the American Academy of Pediatrics, although the AMA and other physician groups have launched similar efforts against gun owners.

Not on MY Watch

Jun 07, 2011 11:57am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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