Doctors and gun advocates are trading potshots after a recent federal appeals court ruling.
Judges with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta upheld Florida’s four-year-old law banning doctors from discussing firearms with patients.
When the debate pits First Amendment rights against Second Amendment rights - patient safety against deeply held conviction -- it gets personal. Debate about the “docs versus Glocks” law takes Tallahassee pediatrician Louis St. Petery back to one of his worst days.
“Unfortunately the first funeral my wife and I attended years ago when we were first in practice was that of a young child whose sibling found a loaded handgun in the parent’s beside drawer and shot and killed a sibling, and that should never happen.”
National Rifle Association lobbyist Marion Hammer remembers her indignation the day a trip to the doctor with her 13-year-old granddaughter included a question about gun ownership.
“The last thing a parent wants when they take a sick child with a high fever and a stomach ache to a doctor is to be interrogated by a doctor about whether they have guns in the home.”
The American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics argue it makes no sense to warn parents about household poisons and car seats but not guns.
“That’s totally crazy and the NRA should be ashamed of itself for doing that. Our goals are child safety. Why isn’t the NRA interested in child safety, why do they want to prevent us from doing the right thing?”
Doctors face disciplinary hearings, a 10 thousand dollar fine or the loss of their medical license for discussing firearms with their patients. Attorneys for the AMA and the Academy are urging doctors not to obey the law while they ask the 11th Circuit to reconsider.
But Hammer says it’s a question of de-politicizing the examining room.
“That is not gun safety. It is a political agenda to ban guns and reasonable people can see right through it.”
The Legislature adopted what it called the Firearm Owners’ Protection Act after an Ocala couple made headlines. They claimed their doctor dropped them from his practice when they refused to say whether they owned guns.