Lawsuit filed over ‘docs and Glocks’by Dara Kam | June 6th, 2011
The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and three groups of Florida doctors have filed a federal lawsuit over a new state law restricting health care practitioners’ ability to ask patients about firearms in the home.
Attorneys filed the lawsuit against Gov. Rick Scott, who signed the bill into law last week, and his administration in Miami today, saying what they call the “Physician Gag Law” infringes on their First Amendment constitutional right to free speech.
“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 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 lawsuit reads.
Under the law, doctors and other health care professionals will face sanctions including fines and losing their licenses if they ask patients about guns in the home without a direct belief that the inquiry is relevant to the patient’s safety or health. Pediatricians say the law keeps them from doing their jobs.
Florida is the only state in the nation to have such a law, NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer told The Palm Beach Post last week.
Hammer, a former president of the national gun-rights organization, said some health care professionals are pushing anti-gun messages to their patients under the guise of home safety questionnaires.
She said doctors need to stick to practicing medicine and keep the politics of gun ownership out of the exam room.
“Doctors should not be spending the time that patients are paying for to talk to them about matters they’re not there for. They come to doctors for medical care and medical treatment, not to have politics in the examining room and not to be lectured on firearms. They are medical doctors; they are not firearms instructors,” Hammer said.