Doctors rebuked by federal appeals court after trying to invade patients’ rights by demanding to know whether they own guns

Wednesday, February 24, 2016
By Paul Martin

by: Daniel Barker
Wednesday, February 24, 2016

For the third time, a U.S. Court of Appeals panel has reaffirmed the constitutionality of a Florida law that protects citizens from being asked questions by doctors about gun ownership.

In the latest development regarding the so-called “Docs vs. Glocks” case, the Florida Firearm Owners Privacy Act has been upheld in the courts. In earlier rulings it was held that the act was a “valid regulation of physicians’ speech,” and that it passed the First Amendment intermediate scrutiny standard.

The law in question prevents doctors from asking a patient (or a minor patient’s parents) whether or not they own guns, unless it is relevant to their medical treatment or care.

The plaintiffs, which included three individual doctors and Florida chapters of two physicians’ associations – the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians – argued that their free speech was being violated by being prevented by a “content-based restriction.”

The court, however, ruled that doctors’ free speech rights do not extend to the examining room, and that “the law fits well within the traditional authority of the states to define and regulate the practice of medicine.”

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