The 11th Circuit Federal Court upheld a Florida law that bans doctors from inquiring about gun ownership with their patients, reported AllGov.com. Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) signed the National Rifle Association-backed Florida Firearm Owners Privacy Act in 2011.
Public health experts generally agree that doctors should be allowed to talk to their patients about gun safety, especially if children or a mentally-ill person lives in the home. However, the court’s 2-1 ruling disregards public health in favor of Republican, pro-gun politics. The two judges were Republican-appointed, one appointed by President Richard Nixon. Dissenting Judge Charles Wilson called the law a gag order.
“Simply put, the act is a gag order that prevents doctors from even asking the first question in a conversation about firearms,” wrote Wilson. “The act prohibits or significantly chills doctors from expressing their views and providing information to patients about one topic and one topic only, firearms.”
“As a result of the Act, there is no doubt that many doctors in Florida will significantly curtail, if not altogether cease, discussion with patients about firearms and firearm safety,” Wilson added.
Critics of the Florida Firearm Owners Privacy Act say the law restricts the First Amendment rights of doctors, and prevents them from fully caring for their patients. The law sets a dangerous precedent that undermines public health.