The Republican-controlled state Legislature adopted the Firearm Owners’ Privacy Act in 2011 after an Ocala couple complained that their doctor asked them about guns. When the couple declined to answer, the physician allegedly refused to see them anymore. The “Docs vs. Glocks” legislation was signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott (R) with the support of the National Rifle Association (NRA), which argued that the doctors were interfering with the right to bear arms.
The law was directed primarily at pediatricians, who frequently ask new parents if they have guns at home and, if so, whether the firearms are being stored safely. Pediatricians say they ask about the guns in order to prevent accidental injuries, but we think it’s pretty clear these docs just want to glock-block. On a rock. In colorful frocks.
The law states that doctors and other healthcare practitioners “shall respect a patient’s right to privacy and should refrain” from asking about gun ownership or whether people have guns in their homes. Doctors may only ask about guns if they believe in “good faith” that the information is “relevant” to a patient’s medical care or safety. U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke said this language was so “vague” that it violated the First Amendment rights of doctors. Cooke also cited the benefit of “preventive medicine” in finding that the law was an unconstitutional infringement upon doctors’ First Amendment rights. “What is curious about this law — and what makes it different from so many other laws involving practitioners’ speech — is that it aims to restrict a practitioner’s ability to provide truthful, non-misleading information to a patient, whether relevant or not at the time of the consult with the patient,” Cooke stated in her 25-page opinion.
The court also considered the government’s Second Amendment argument but ultimately concluded that the legislation ”simply does not interfere with the right to keep and bear arms.”
House sponsor Rep. Jason Brodeur (R-Sanford), said an appeal to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals is likely.