Appeals court strikes down ban on law

Court says law keeping doctors from discussing gun ownership OK

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A federal appeals court has ruled that a law restricting doctors from talking about gun ownership with their patients is constitutional.

Medical professionals say this is a violation of rights – and harmful to a patient's health.

The physician and gun control groups involved in the lawsuit have said they will appeal the federal court's decision. The ruling does allow doctors to give patients pamphlets or brochures on safety.

"Docs vs. Glocks" was coined after a 2011 law passed banning doctors from talking with patients about gun ownership. The NRA heavily backed the proposal.

"When you take your children to a doctor, it's because they're sick or they need medical care," said NRA spokeswoman Marion Hammer. "You don't take your child to a doctor to have the doctor express his or her political views about guns."

A lower court judge found the law unconstitutional in 2012. Now, a federal appeals court ruled the other way.

Healthcare professionals say the number of gun-related accidents is reason enough to have a conversation with their patients.

Accidental shooting deaths killed at least 17 kids last year in Florida.

Dr. Louis St. Petery said it should be no different than talking to a parent about car seats for safety.

"Prevention is the name of the game, so, for prevention of diseases there are immunizations, which have done a terrific job, but for children, now the biggest killers are accidents," Petery said.

Pro-gun groups say the law protects patients' privacy. Physicians don't need to know what they own.

"They're not firearms instructors. They're not safety instructors," Hammer said. "They're trained in medicine. That's why we go see them."

Florida's American Civil Liberties Union bashed the appeals court decision.

"These conversations are needed, and we can't allow the legislature to block these conversations just because it's a conversation about guns," said Howard Simon, ACLU Florida executive director.

The ban on the law will be kept in place until the entire appeals process has been completed.

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