Reporting Tim Kephart
TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – Florida Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Department of Health have appealed a Miami federal judge’s ruling that barred the enforcement of a state law that forbid doctors and other medical providers from asking patients about guns in their homes.
“The Department of Health today filed an appeal to the federal court decision blocking enforcement of the Firearm Owner’s Privacy Act,” Governor Scott said in a statement. “This law was carefully crafted to respect the First Amendment while ensuring a patient’s constitutional right to own or possess a firearm without discrimination. I signed this legislation into law because I believe it is constitutional and I will continue to defend it.”
U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke barred the enforcement of the so-called “Docs and Glocks” law on July 3. Judge Cooke said in her ruling that 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 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 News Service of Florida reported.
The case will now head to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.
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