Doctors Sue For Right To Ask If Patients Own Guns

MIAMI (CBS4) – A group of physicians filed suit in Miami federal court Monday for the right to ask their patients if they own guns and have them properly stored, according to The News Service of Florida.

In what could be dubbed “Docs vs. Glocks”, physicians maintain they need to ask their patients the about the guns as part of their safety questions. They also ask if patients keep poisons in their home and how medications are stored.

The measure, HB 155, recently passed in both chambers along largely party line votes; 88-30 in the House and 27-10 in the Senate.

The complaint, filed in the Southern District of Florida, claims that prohibiting certain dialogue between doctors and patients is unconstitutional. It reads, in part:

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 complaint reads. The First Amendment does not permit such a gross and content-based intrusion on speech and, accordingly, the court should declare the ‘Physician Gag Law unconstitutional and enjoin its enforcement.

The legislation is said to have originated after an Ocala couple complained that their doctor told them to find another physician when they refused to answer whether or not they owned guns and how they are stored.

Florida National Rifle Association lobbyist Marion Hammer, whose organization strongly supports the measure, could not be reached for comment.

“We pay doctors to be doctors and give us medical care,” Hammer said in an interview with the Capital News Service last week. “Instead, they are trying to be social workers and bring their gun-ban politics into the examining room.”

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.)

  • John Wayne

    what a crock of liberal BS. These Doctors should be fined for bringing a frivolous law suit to the court.

  • Rich7553

    If their intent is safety, there is nothing in the law that prevents a doctor from providing safety information on any topic including firearms. But the desire to ask if patients personally own firearms goes beyond the needs of providing safety information, and borders on intrusion for purposes of furthering a political agenda.

  • Steve

    What’s the harm of a question? What are you so afraid of? If you want to lie about, it, then go ahead.

    Doctors (especially pediatricians and psychiatrists) routinely ask, and SHOULD ask about potential harm inside the home, whether that be poisons and firearms. People can lie about it and the result may be their child shoots himself or poisons himself over improper storage of poisonous material. Gov. Scott and the legislature should NOT be telling doctors what they can or cannot say. Don’t tell me how to do my job since you do not know. This law impinges on my right of free speech.

    This law is ridiculous.

    • Kay

      I agree!! I don’t understand why there’s a constant need to tiptoe around everyone’s feelings and watching every single word you say so that you don’t make someone feel “uncomfortable”!!! What is the big deal about answering yes or no to owning a firearm?? I think Scott should be the least person to tell anyone how to do their job when he’s completely clueless on how to do his.

      • Rich7553

        Kay, your political bias is showing. Do you own a firearm? If you don’t, you wouldn’t have a clue as to “what the big deal is”, now would you?

    • Rich7553

      It does not impinge on your right of free speech. You are free to provide whatever information you wish. You are simply not allowed to ask, nor base denial of service on the answer you do or do not receive AS OTHER PEDIATRICIANS HAVE DONE.

      But tell me, what medical degree qualifies you to be a home safety expert? You are no more qualified to evaluate home safety than I am to evaluate a viral infection.

      If you feel that you cannot serve your patients HEALTH (not safety) needs by providing information rather than ASKING questions, then I question your real motivation.

    • Robert

      In case you’re not aware, a significant portion of the medical community has a blatant and unethical anti-gun agenda. If you read research articles in peer-reviewed journals in other fields, such as the social sciences, on guns and gun control, you find that their results correspond to data on national crime rates, etc. But if you read peer-reviewd articles published in medical journals, even prominent journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine, written by physicians, the conclusions always paint a very anti-gun, pro gun control picture that does not correspond to publicly available data. And these articles have also been universally criticized by leading science bodies, such as the National Academy of Sciences and the CDC for reporting research based on extremely flawed methodologies. Congress has even cut funding on the issue by medical researchers because the quality of the research was so poor and politically slanted. And physicians groups admit that one reason they want to ask these questions is that they want to “collect data” for more of the same.

      Physicians have no need to ask these questions. Gun accidents are one of the rarest causes of injury to children, far below many risks physicians never ask about. And if it is a concern for a physician, nothing in the law prevents him or her from counseling their patients on gun safety (though physicians don’t really know anything about it generally and aren’t really qualified to give such advice, especially since what information they do have probably comes from the horribly flawed “research” carried out by their colleagues, and not actual experts on gun safety). What reason do they have to collect individualized information? Why not treat firearms safety the way you handle infectious disease safety, with universal precautions? That makes far more sense and doesn’t require violating your patients’ privacy rights.

  • Chucky...

    Guys, oh guys.

    The doctor told these people to go jump in a lake (metaphorically), because he didn’t like their answer.

    Again, and i’ve said it before; to all you closet moralists and agenda mongers…it’s real easy to establish measures like these, but it’s real hard to undue them once they’re in place.

    …and these kinds of rules have a life of their own; they don’t just stop. Once the foot is in the door, they unfold and expand like some kind of sinister alien, lie the Alien in the movie!

    Before you know it, doctors will want to ask this question, and that question, and they won’t want to treat you unless you provide the magic answer to the question posed.

    So, all you goody-two-shoes out there (I like that one), better think about that.

  • Check This Out

    Check This Out

    Doctors Sue For Right To Ask If Patients Own Guns « CBS Miami

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