Florida Law Prohibiting Doctors From Asking Gun Questions Brings Lawsuit

Florida Law Prohibiting Doctors From Asking Gun Questions Brings Lawsuit

A bill banning Florida physicians from asking patients about gun ownership, signed into law last week by Governor Rick Scott (R), has brought out more than the typical hue and cry from the anti-self defense crowd.

On Monday, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, along with the Florida chapters of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American College of Physicians, filed a lawsuit seeking to throw out the new law.

While claiming the new law violates doctors’ First Amendment rights, the lawsuit hardly conceals its bias against gun rights.

“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,” according to the motion filed Monday in federal court in Miami.

No mention is ever made, of course, of the “grievous harm” that is prevented because of lawful gun ownership. In fact, a wide range of studies show that self-defense uses of firearms dramatically outweigh accidents and the criminal misuse of guns. Doctors who discourage gun ownership actually make people less safe and more vulnerable to criminal attack.

Furthermore, contrary to the Brady Center’s misinformation campaign, the new law does allow for doctors to discuss firearms ownership if relevant to a patient’s medical care or safety. “There’s nothing in the bill that would prevent a safety discussion about firearms like medical personnel would for swimming pools, chemicals or any other potential hazard,” said state Rep. Jason Brodeur, the bill’s sponsor.

“The bill only states that medical personnel can’t ask about firearm ownership directly, record the answer or condition treatment upon the response.”

Besides questions about gun ownership being inappropriate and none of a doctor’s business—and besides the fact that most doctor organizations are vehemently anti-Second Amendment—there are serious questions about how such information could be abused.

Rep. Brodeur cites cases of patients being denied care for refusing to answer questions about guns—and also cites concerns that such information could lead to higher insurance rates.

But there are even greater issues at stake. Most importantly, under the new national health care law—which the American Medical Association and the AAP supported—the federal government will amass a database of patient medical records. In that case, information about gun ownership passes from the realm of doctor-patient confidentiality to potential abuse by bureaucrats in Washington.

“If the overreaching federal government actually takes over health care, [people are] worried that Washington, D.C., is going to know whether or not they own a gun and so this is really just a privacy protection,” Broduer said.

Broduer’s worries are not unfounded. The American Association of Physicians and Surgeons has warned for years about the government breaching the confidentiality between doctors and patients, and we know that the federal government has already used medical records to take away people’s gun rights.

For instance, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disarmed tens of thousands of veterans who suffered from common ailments such as PTSD—something that affects as many as one-third of returning combat veterans.

Since 1999, over 150,000 vets have lost their Second Amendment rights for life because, based on the diagnosis of government psychiatrists, they have a third party appointed to oversee their financial affairs.

These veterans committed no crime; they were not tried in a court of law; they served their country honorably; and yet they lost their gun rights for life … thanks to government bureaucrats and medical records. Because the VA controls a national health record database, it was simply a matter of a few keystrokes to add the names of these vets to the FBI’s gun prohibition list.

Based on the experience of veterans, gun owners have every reason to fear that the prohibited person list will grow dramatically under ObamaCare.

Gun Owners of America applauds the efforts of Rep. Broduer and Gov. Scott in keeping gun owner information off of any medical records database.

John Velleco is Director of Federal Affairs for Gun Owners of America, a grassroots lobbying organization with more than 300,000 members nationwide.