Judge Blocks Florida Law Banning Doctors from Gun Talk

| by Mark Berman Opposing Views

A federal judge has blocked a Florida law that bans doctors from asking their patients about guns, saying such talk does not violate constitutional gun rights. However the judge ruled that banning the discussion does violate free speech rights.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed the law in June, contending that a doctor asking a patient if they have guns violates privacy laws, and possibly even the 2nd Amendment. But a doctor's group and the Brady Campaign sued to stop the law, saying doctors must talk to their patients about their safety, and that includes guns.

U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke agreed, saying "This case concerns one of our Constitution's most precious rights - the freedom of speech. A practitioner who counsels a patient on firearm safety, even when entirely irrelevant to medical care or safety, does not affect or interfere with the patient's right to continue to own, possess or use firearms."

Dr. Lisa Cosgrove, president of the Florida chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said doctors routinely counsel patients about safety issues at home, on everything from backyard swimming pools to use of bike helmets. So why not guns?

"Sometimes it's just a reminder that if you are a gun owner, you make sure you are a responsible gun owner," Cosgrove told the Associated Press. "Children cannot make these decisions about safety for themselves. Parents have to be the guides for that."

The Attorney General's office did not say whether it would appeal the ruling.