Florida Bill Would Bar Doctors From Asking Patients About Guns

May 9, 2011 10:44 a.m.

As NPR reports, a Florida bill would bar doctors — in particular pediatricians — from asking their patients if they own guns. Gov. Rick Scott (R) is expected to sign the bill this week, which would make Florida the first state with such a law.

Scott’s office would not release a timeline on when the governor plans to sign the bill. But Scott’s press secretary, Lane Wright, told TPM “it’s likely he will support it.”The National Rifle Association says doctors asking their patients about firearms in the home intrudes on Second Amendment rights. NRA lobbyists helped write the bill.

“We take our children to pediatricians for medical care — not moral judgment, not privacy intrusions,” former NRA president Marion Hammer said.

An NRA release on the legislation reads, in part:

Doctors need to treat illness, not guns. Pediatricians and other physicians, in growing numbers, are prying into our personal lives, invading our privacy and straying from issues relating to disease and medicine by questioning children or their parents about gun ownership.

The public debate began when an Ocala, Fla. pediatrician refused to offer care when a mother refused to answer questions about guns in the home, the AP reports. Doctors cite safety concerns over the bill, equating it to other household safety issues such as pools.

“If you have a pool, let’s talk about pool safety so we don’t have accidental drownings,” Dr. Louis St. Petery told NPR.

In late March, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a statement condemning the bill.

“The bills, if enacted, would limit pediatricians’ capacity to do what they do best – compassionately and effectively care for children,” the statement reads.

But Florida state Sen. Greg Evers (R) — one of the bill’s sponsors — says “I don’t believe it says in the Constitution that you have the right to own a pool,” he said. “This is about protecting and affirming our Second Amendment rights.”

The bill does allow doctors to ask patients about guns if they feel it’s relevant to the patient’s safety.

h/t Gawker

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