Federal Judge: Florida Docs Can Talk To Patients About Guns

Submitted by Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

Gun-owning Floridians will now be able to discuss those lethal weapons with their physicians after a federal judge has blocked the enforcement of a Florida law. Florida governor and Tea Party darling, Rick Scott, signed into law a gag order preventing doctors from talking to their patients about the hazards of gun possession in their homes when small children and teenagers are present.

 Around 4000 kids are shot each year by guns they find around the house. Rick Scott finds that sad but has no interest in allowing pediatricians the right to explain that fact to their patients and suggest alternatives. The Florida chapters of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians thought they should have that right as citizens.

The Judge agreed with the doctors and issued a preliminary injunction stopping the law in its tracks. “Information regarding firearm ownership is not sacrosanct,” U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke wrote in her ruling. “Federal and state statutes heavily regulate firearm ownership, possession and sale and require firearm owners to provide personal information in certain circumstances.”

Judge Cooke reminded the elected guardians of freedom in Florida that there really is more to the Bill of Rights that just the Second Amendment. “This case concerns one of our Constitution’s most precious rights — the freedom of speech. The law curtails practitioners’ ability to inquire about whether patients own firearms and burdens their ability to deliver a firearm safety message to patients,” she wrote. “The Firearm Owners’ Privacy Act thus implicates practitioners’ First Amendment rights of free speech.” Just as importantly, Cooke said the law “implicates patients’ freedom to receive information about firearms safety, which the First Amendment protects.”

Advocates for victims of gun violence were elated. “We are pleased that the court has blocked the gun lobby’s outrageous and unconstitutional attempt to stop doctors from warning about the severe risks posed by guns in the home,” said Dennis Henigan, acting president of the Brady Center who joined in the suit on the side of the physicians.

From a good government standpoint, one has to  wonder about the motivations of the legislators of Florida who thought it  appropriate to inject themselves into the private discussions between physician and patient.  It’s even more curious that a legislative body in a democracy thought it perfectly acceptable to deny their citizenry the truth about an issue directly affecting their families’ safety.

Cast out of their constitiuents bedrooms by a whole host of  SCOTUS opinions those Tea Party busybodies now feel quite entitled to intrude upon the examination room.  Apparently, it’s conservative politics that trumps all; a Constitutional provision merely the clothing for the wolf. Judge Cooke saw through the disguise.

Source: Yahoo News

~Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

24 thoughts on “Federal Judge: Florida Docs Can Talk To Patients About Guns”

  1. Forgettinhg free speech what happened to doc-patient confidentiality? The state has no right to intrude on that sacrosanct relationship and the state has enough extra money floating around to waste it this way?

  2. Jason1, September 17, 2011 at 9:34 pm
    Legislation gone amok. Florida is good at regulating and controlling everyone who but those who really need it…

  3. Wouldn’t the doctor patient discussion be protected under First Amendment rights or do patients have to incorporate in Florida before they are allowed to discuss anything of importance with their physician? Florida has gone over the edge into the abyss of nonsense.

  4. The whole mess was ridiculous, it was one idiotic overreaction after another. It started with isolated incidents of doctors dismissing patients after they refused to answer the gun question. Stupid overreaction number one, by the doctor(s). The pro-gun people then overreacted to a very rare “problem” with an absurd and obviously unconstitutional law.

  5. eniobob, rc,

    Maybe you’ll find this interesting….All of the questions seem logically connected….But hey….The cops…just see a fraction of the problems….

    “Dr. Vidor Friedman, the president-elect of the Florida College of Emergency Medicine, told lawmakers that doctors often need to question patients in the course of treatment to ensure they are not in danger of being further injured. Particularly in domestic abuse cases, he said, doctors are often trying to ascertain whether a patient feels safe.

    “I don’t care if you own a gun or not,” Friedman said. “The question is, is the gun still a risk to you.”

    With children, doctors are also worried, said Dr. Louis St. Petery, a Leon County pediatrician who is executive vice president of the Florida Chapter of American Pediatrics and a member of the FMA. The issue, he said, wasn’t whether families owned a gun, it was whether children had access to it.

    “Our issue is if you have a gun, let’s talk about how to properly store that gun so that children don’t get accidentally shot and killed,” he said.

    But for several members of the committee, it came down to a matter of privacy. Lawmakers largely said they couldn’t understand why doctors would need to ask about guns, even if it involved a criminal action.

    Sen. Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale, who has generally supported gun control legislation, said he was looking for a reason to vote against the bill, but couldn’t figure out why doctors would need to ask whether their patients own guns.”


  6. I’m not sure why a doctor and his/her patient might be discussing guns as a medical issue, but the idea that the state can or should enact a law preventing a discussion of a subject between any two people, let alone a physician and patient is beyond insanity all the way to terminal teabag-osis.

  7. AY:

    Somehow your post made me think about this:

    Sen. Mike Lee Calls Child Labor Laws Unconstitutional
    By Ian Millhiser on Jan 14, 2011 at 10:00 am

    “Last week, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) posted a lecture on his YouTube channel where he explains in great detail his views on the Constitution. As part of the lecture, which is essentially a lengthy defense of his radical tenther interpretation of the Constitution, Lee claims that federal child labor laws are unconstitutional:”


  8. mespo,

    You are so correct that the names of the Governors presently are a distinction without a difference………This brings to mind a Juvenile case that made headlines in Michigan years ago…The child was tired of his mom being beat by her boyfriend and retrieved the Gun from the family oven….yes…oven….and shot him….

    From what I understand is that the dealers were using minors to run drugs because of lighter sentences that they received….sometimes a slap on the wrist….it made some crimes automatic designation cases…..where a juvenile is charged as an adult regardless of age….

    Maybe something more awful has to happen….

    This case was defended by Feiger the same attorney for Doctor Jack K….

    SIGNIFICANCE: Only 11 years old at the time of his arrest, Nathaniel Abraham became the youngest American convicted of murder as an adult. His trial spotlighted the controversial issue of trying juvenile offenders in adult court.

    During the 1980s, the number of violent crimes committed by juveniles in the United States began to rise. In response, a growing number of states passed laws stipulating that children under 17 could be tried as adults for certain crimes. The slogan “adult crime, adult time” captured the sentiments of supporters of these juvenile justice statutes. By 1992, more than 40 states had passed laws for trying children as adults.

    Read more: Nathaniel Abraham Trial: 1999 – Murderer Or Troubled Youth?, Controversial Sentence, Suggestions For Further Reading – Juvenile, Adult, Justice, Day, Passed, and Caliber http://law.jrank.org/pages/3799/Nathaniel-Abraham-Trial-1999.html#ixzz1YDY8G0On

  9. Tom:

    Sorry. I”ll make that correction but is it really a distinction with a difference? A stinkweed by any other name…

  10. Half the Florida legislature thought that this law was constitutional? That’s somewhat alarming. Aren’t some of them lawyers, or don’t they know the law on an informal basis, or any lawyers ….
    Secession rears its ugly head as the simplest alternative.

  11. It is easy to get these guys confused. Rick Perry, Rick Scott and Scott Walker are all tea party republicans. Nearly every day one of them does something outrageously bad.

  12. Where do you start? Challenges to ones intelligence seem to be poping up everyday from those on the right who want to be POTUS .

    This is one more example,we’ll see how long it takes before the MSM gets a hold of this story.

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