An appeals court has struck down Florida’s “Docs v Glocks” law that prohibits doctors from asking patients whether or not they have any firearms in their home.
The “Firearm Owners Privacy Act,” or FOPA, was enacted after people reported being asked by their healthcare providers questions about firearm ownership unrelated to their medical treatment.
The court tossed out most of the law, ruling it violated the First Amendment. There were four provisions of the law. It barred physicians from:
- asking questions relating to firearms ownership that were unrelated to a patient’s medical treatment,
- recording information relating to patients’ firearms ownership that were unrelated to medical treatment,
- unnecessarily harassing a patient about firearm ownership during an examination, and
- discriminating against a patient solely on the basis of the patient’s ownership and possession of a firearm.
The courts threw out the first three provisions as violations of the First Amendment, but upheld the ban against discrimination. The courts ruled that “discrimination” was an act, and not speech.
The law was enacted after doctors asked patients and children about guns in the home. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote:
One Florida legislator said during the 2011 debate his daughter’s pediatrician asked him to remove his gun from his home. Another lawmaker said a doctor refused to treat a constituent’s child because there were guns in the house. Yet another Florida legislator recounted a complaint from a constituent that his health care provider falsely told him that disclosing firearm ownership was a Medicaid requirement.
Writing for the majority opinion, Judge Adlaberto Jordan said that “there was no evidence whatsoever before the Florida Legislature that any doctors or medical professionals have taken away patients’ firearms or otherwise infringed on patients’ Second Amendment rights.”
The court did let stand the provision prohibiting insurers from denying coverage or increasing premiums on applicants based on their firearm ownership.
While the law did seem to run afoul with the First Amendment, there are legitimate concerns, especially since the medical community seems to be adamant about assessing whether or not patients have guns in their home and trying to pester (I mean “counsel”) them to get rid of them.
So what do you do when your doctor asks if you have a gun in your home? As we wrote last year, perhaps your best bet is simply to lie to them. Any waffling on your part – or refusal to answer – will be seen as deceptive. Just a simple, “No, doc! No guns in our home! Guns are really icky!” will probably keep them at bay.
H/T: The Truth About Guns