With Florida’s 2011 law forbidding doctors from talking to patients about guns struck down in federal appeals court, state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith and state Sen. Gary Farmer are seeking to repeal it.
The law, introduced in 2011 by Republican state Rep. Jason Brodeur of Sanford as the “Firearm Owners’ Privacy Act” has been derided by critics and most Democrats such as Smith and Farmer as the “Docs vs. Glocks” law. It makes it illegal for doctors to ask patients if they own guns. Doctors groups, who have almost universally opposed the law, argued such conversations can help doctors assess health risks, while the laws’ supporters argued such conversations were invasive and potential harassment.
Smith, of Orlando, introduced House Bill 6033 on Tuesday to repeal the law. Farmer, of Fort Lauderdale, has not yet filed his bill in the Senate but has signaled his intention.
Courts, most recently, two weeks ago, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, concluded that the state trying to tell doctors what they can or cannot talk about is a violation of their 1st Amendment rights of freedom of speech. The law was initially ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge in 2012, but an earlier appeals court decision reversed that. The full panel of the 11th Circuit voted 10-1 to reverse the decision back, invalidating the law.
“Once again, the courts have struck down an extreme and unconstitutional law passed by the Florida legislature,” Smith stated in a news release. “Physicians have the constitutionally-protected right, as well as the moral obligation to discuss commonsense gun safety precautions that protect patients and their families while in the home.
Smith cited a Feb. 23 report by the Tampa Bay Times that found that between 2010 and 2015, nearly 3,200 kids 17 and younger were killed or injured by firearms in Florida, and that the rates are increasing dramatically. He also discussed suicide and domestic homicide statistics.
“On average, a child in Florida is shot every seventeen hours,” Smith added. “Repealing this law is an important step towards protecting our children and families from the growing epidemic of accidental gun shootings, while at the same time affirming the first and second amendment rights of both physicians and patients alike.”