Docs’ suit against gun law gains more firepowerby John Kennedy | July 19th, 2011
The Florida ACLU and Palm Beach County Medical Society are among a half-dozen organizations that Tuesday sought to join a lawsuit aimed at stopping a new state law restricting health care professionals from asking patients about firearms in their homes.
“The government is trying to play referee on conversations by ruling some topics out of bounds while other subjects or speakers are allowed,” said Howard Simon, the state ACLU’s executive director. “That’s why we have a Constitution – to make sure the government can’t use the power of law to restrict speech – especially on politically sensitive speech such as guns and ammunition.”
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.
The National Rifle Association spearheaded the push for the legislation’s passage last spring. Supporters said the measure (HB 155) was designed to stop doctors from giving patients anti-gun lectures.
The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and three physician organizations sued the state in Miami federal court last month to block the law. Also looking to join the suit Tuesday are the University of Miami School of Law Children and Youth Clinic, Children’s Healthcare Is a Legal Duty, Inc., the Early Childhood Initiative Foundation, Broward County Medical Association and the Broward County Pediatric Society.