Contrary to the antis’ frequent accusations, I am enamored of the whole Constitution. Like many Second Amendment absolutists I do have my favorite bits (like the Second Amendment), but I’m also very partial to Article I section 8 as well as the First, Fourth, Ninth and Tenth amendments. So as a fan of freedom of speech, I found Florida’s Firearm Owners’ Privacy Act an abomination. Even so, as a fan of logic, clear thinking and, well, reality I found Judge Cooke’s ruling on the FOPA to be just as bad because, as far as I can tell, she didn’t even read the law . . .
Yes this was a horrible law which was vaguely written and had a highly dubious rationale. And I would have been perfectly content if Judge Cooke had thrown it out based on those criteria. But . . . six times in a 25 page ruling, Judge Cooke uses the phrase “truthful, non-misleading speech/information.” She sums up her objection quite well when she says:
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 . . .
FOPA did nothing of the sort. If you read the bill you will discover that it prohibits a doctor from asking or recording information about firearm ownership and prohibits a doctor from dropping a patient who refuses to talk about firearm ownership.
She also undermines one of the other arguments against the law, that doctors don’t have time to discuss irrelevant information with patients so they needed to be able to ask about gun ownership:
The purpose of preventive medicine is to discuss with a patient topics that, while perhaps not relevant to a patient’s medical safety at the time, informs the patient about general concerns that may arise in the future.
Again there is absolutely nothing in FOPA which precluded a doctor providing such information; all it did was prohibit asking about and recording gun ownership information.
All that being said, I am glad the law is dead, but it just wouldn’t be a “victory” for the antis without some lies and bogus numbers thrown in, would it? By way of the Miami Herald we hear from Dan Gross (new prez of the Brady Bunch):
“Guns in the home are a proven deadly risk,” Dan Gross, president of the Brady Center, said in a statement following Cooke’s decision. “Guns kill eight children every day. …”
Going to our friendly neighborhood CDC WISQARS website it only takes a minute or two of research to find that when he says “children” Dan is talking about people up to and including 19 years old. In fact, looking at actual, you know, children (0 – 13 years) we find that Dan is off by an order of magnitude.
Instead of 2920 (365×8) per year, from 1999 to 2009 we actually have an average of 281 a year. Which is also a misleading number, since counseling parents about guns in the home won’t affect the number of children killed, nor (since rates are independent of method) will it affect suicide rates. So just looking at accidental shooting deaths of children up to 13 years old from 2005 through 2009, we have an average of 53 per year, or a hair over one per week.
One child a week accidentally killed with a gun is still a terrible tragedy. But given that fifteen children are murdered with something other than a firearm every week, maybe the children the Bradys purport to cherish so much would be better served if they directed their efforts elsewhere.
 Absent a “good faith belief” that such information is relevant; a standard so vague as to warrant dumping the law by itself.