Here’s the official summary of Florida’s Privacy of Firearm Owners bill, signed into law yesterday: “Provides that licensed practitioner or facility may not record firearm ownership information in patient’s medical record; provides exception; provides that unless information is relevant to patient’s medical care or safety or safety of others, inquiries regarding firearm ownership or possession should not be made; provides exception for EMTS & paramedics; provides that patient may decline to provide information regarding ownership or possession of firearms; clarifies that physician’s authority to choose patients is not altered; prohibits discrimination by licensed practitioners or facilities based solely on patient’s firearm ownership or possession; prohibits harassment of patient regarding firearm ownership during examination; prohibits denial of insurance coverage, increased premiums, or other discrimination by insurance companies issuing policies on basis of insured’s or applicant’s ownership, possession, or storage of firearms or ammunition; clarifies that insurer is not prohibited from considering value of firearms or ammunition in setting personal property premiums; provides for disciplinary action.” Now here are a few problems . . .
First, there is no need for this bill. There was no large group of aggrieved citizens clamoring for a law that stops their doctor from asking about their guns, or suffered at the hands of firearms-aversive insurance companies.
As we’ve said before, the first amendment guarantees any patient who feels discriminated against by a hopolophobic medical care-giver the right to say “piss off” and find another doctor. The free market is not lacking in insurers willing to do business with gun owners. This bill looks very like the NRA flexing its muscles for flexing’s sake.
Second, the bill text (click here for the actual wording) reveals that this is legislative theater. The medical folk can’t ask about firearms unless they think it relevant to the patient’s care. So if they think it is, they can. Which means what? They can’t talk about skeet shooting but they can justify any general gun-related question under concerns for mental health?
Also, it’s toothless (which is just as well). If someone complains, a medical board checks it out and, maybe, slaps gun-hating Doc on the wrist. Seriously. That’s it. While few Doctors want a blemished record and there’s nothing like a black list to shift the balance of power in the wrong direction, who’s going to bother with this meaningless grievance process? Aside from a few ambulance chasers looking for some new business.
And lastly, one would have hoped that a gun rights group would understand the need for limited government. Which rests on the foundation of privacy. Inserting Big Brother into the doctor – patient relationship violates the letter of the First Amendment and the spirit of the Second. More guns, less crime. More laws, less freedom.