Yesterday, U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke blocked a state law that barred doctors from asking patients about guns. The law was specifically aimed at making sure pediatricians did not ask parents if they have guns in the house.
Groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida claimed that the law violated the First Amendment rights of doctors. Cooke agreed.
Howard Simon, the executive director of the ACLU of Florida, said in a statement that the ruling was not surprising.
“It is hard to imagine that even legislators who voted for this bill thought that the state could legislate the doctor-patient relationship,” Simon said, “in this case by imposing a gag order on doctors prohibiting them from asking about firearms and ammunition.”
“The right of doctors to ask routine questions about dangers in the home is essential and can provide medical professionals with information they need to help their patients protect the safety and lives of children,” Simon said in his statement.
The “Privacy of Firearm Owners” was backed and partially written by lobbyists for the National Rifle Association. Supporters claim that the bill was aimed at protecting Second Amendment rights.
A spokesman for Gov. Rick Scott told Talking Points Memo that “the Privacy of Firearm Owners legislation was carefully crafted to respect the first amendment. We plan to appeal the judge’s block, and we’re confident we’ll win the appeal.”
State Rep. Rick Kriseman, D-St. Petersburg, who recently filed legislation that would repeal the law, said he is very pleased with the ruling. In a recent statement, Kriseman said he applauds “Judge Cooke for recognizing the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship.”
“This is a victory not just for the medical community and for those who seek their care, but for common sense,” Kriseman said.