Federal appeals court rules Florida doctors may talk to patients about guns

Federal appeals court rules Florida doctors may talk to patients about guns

The US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Cistrict [official website] on Thursday overturned [opinion, PDF] Florida’s 2011 Firearms Owners’ Privacy Act (FOPA) [text], also referred to as the “Docs vs. Glocks” law. The law prohibited doctors from entering information on gun ownership into a patient’s medical record if it is not relevant to medical care or safety, prohibited doctors from asking about gun ownership to the patient or families, prohibited doctors from harassing patients because of owning firearms, and prohibited doctors from discriminating against patients for owning firearms. The plaintiffs argued that the law violated their First Amendment rights. The court found that the law was unconstitutional with the exception of the provision against discriminating against patients due to gun ownership. The court stated that patients are free to not answer any questions by the doctors or have to choose between counseling on health and safety or face civil sanctions for harassment. The dissent argued that the law was sufficiently narrowly drawn to not restrict the general speech of doctors on firearms.

Gun control [JURIST backgrounder] and the Second Amendment continue to be controversial national topics. In January, the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh District struck down [JURIST report] a law which placed restrictions on the placement of gun ranges in Chicago. In March 2016 the West Virginia Legislature overrode [JURIST report] a governor veto to allow carrying of concealed weapons with a permit. In January 2014 a judge for the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois struck down [JURIST report] a Chicago ordinance that banned the licensed sale of firearms in the city. In September 2013 the Illinois Supreme Court invalidated [JURIST report] certain provisions of the state’s Aggravated Weapon Use Law as unconstitutional.