TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A 2011 law restricting how doctors can talk to patients about guns would be repealed under a bill filed Tuesday in the state Senate.
Sen. Oscar Braynon, D-Miami Gardens, filed the measure (SB 314) to repeal the 2011 "Firearm Owners' Privacy Act," which isn't currently being enforced because a federal judge threw it out in July. The state, however, is appealing that ruling.
The law prevents doctors from asking patients questions about whether they have guns in their house.
"It's an unnecessary statute," Braynon said. "When doctors are asking these questions, they're asking for safety reasons. It's like asking if you have dogs in the house, do you have knives."
Marion Hammer, executive director of the United Sportsmen of Florida, said Tuesday she had yet to see the bill and declined comment until she has a chance to.
A former national president of the National Rifle Association, Hammer lobbied hard for the bill's passage in 2011.
Lawmakers passed the bill in 2011 over the objections of Florida pediatricians. The Florida Medical Association, which originally opposed the bill, withdrew its objections after amendments were added allowing physicians to ask about gun ownership under certain circumstances.
In July, U.S. District Court Judge Marcia Cooke ruled that the law was built largely on anecdotal evidence and that lawmakers couldn't prove that Second Amendment rights would be jeopardized or that patients with guns might face discrimination.
"The state's arguments rest on a legislative illusion," Cooke wrote.
The bill easily passed both chambers in 2011 along largely party line votes of 88-30 in the House and 27-10 in the Senate.
Supporters argued that doctors might refuse to treat patients who had guns in their homes or that patients who declined to answer the question might be turned away. They also raised the possibility that patients' privacy rights might be violated if their gun ownership were listed in medical records.
But doctors countered that knowing what is in a patient's home – particularly a child's – gives them an opportunity to advise their patients on how to stay safe.
The state appealed Cooke's decision, with Gov. Rick Scott saying the bill was "carefully crafted" to protect physician/patient relationship while ensuring a patient's Second Amendment rights.
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