Florida Docs vs. Glocks

A controversial new law in Florida has prompted doctors to go to court to overturn what they call a gag on any discussion of gun ownership with patients.

The Miami Herald reports that U.S. District Court Judge Marcia Cooke is expected to rule later this summer following a hearing on July 13.

“What I need to determine, is the legislation itself an unconstitutional burden on speech?” Cooke said during a Miami federal court hearing. “What can’t you do now that you could do before?”

Lawyers representing the doctors said under the new law physicians have imposed "self-censorship" on screening questionaires and conversations with patients. Fearing legal action, the University of Miami has required some 1,400 doctors to remove references to guns on standard questionaire forms.

Lawyers for the state defending the law counter that the law was carefully crafted and does not prohibit physicians from talking to patients about gun ownership, so long as it is relevant to an actual concern over safety.

The Miami Herald reports the law was pushed by the National Rifle Association. When the NRA tried to intervene in the doctors' lawsuit, the judge limited the NRA involvement to filing a friend of the court brief.

The new law authorizes the Board of Medicine to respond to a formal complaint against a doctor with a $10,000 line and revoke their license.

Doctors, especially pediatricians, address gun ownership and safe storage to prevent unintential injuries. According to the most recent national annual data from CDC, 18,610 persons (including 3,588 children and teens) were accidentally shot in 2009 and 613 persons died from accidental shootings (including 138 children and teens) in 2007.