Reporting Tim Kephart
Legislative Session Coverage
TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – A federal judge in Miami has sided with doctors in the Sunshine State over a controversial gun law.
U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke barred the enforcement of a law passed last year that forbid doctors and other medical providers from asking patients about guns in their homes, according to the News Service of Florida. Judge Cooke said lawmakers had failed to make the case that gun owners were being unduly burdened.
“What is curious about this law—and what makes it different from so many other laws involving practitioners’ speech—is that it aims to restrict a practitioner’s ability to provide truthful, non-misleading information to a patient…,” Cooke wrote. “The purpose of preventive medicine is to discuss with a patient topics that, while perhaps not relevant to a patient’s medical safety at the time, inform the patient about general concerns that may arise in the future.”
The law, which was heavily backed by the National Rifle Association had been approved by the Republican legislature and signed into law by Governor Rick Scott. It was challenged in court by groups including: the Florida Pediatric Society and the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
The law had been halted under a temporary injunction since last September. The critics of the bill asserted the law interfered with the doctor-patient relationship and prevented health care workers from obtaining relevant information about a patient’s safety at home.
Cooke said neither supporters of the bill nor their attorneys could provide more than anecdotal information proving that prohibiting physicians from asking such questions would result in widespread discrimination against gun owners, the NSF reported.
“I do not disagree that the government has such an interest in protecting its citizens’ fundamental rights,” Cooke wrote. “The Firearm Owners’ Privacy Act, however, simply does not interfere with the right to keep and bear arms. The state’s arguments rest on a legislative illusion.”
Lawmakers haven’t said what they will do, though some want the issue appealed to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.
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