Florida Firearms Owners Privacy Act Does Not Gag Doctors

Howard Simon, ACLU (courtesy naplesnews.com)

Here’s the official description of the Florida Firearms Owners Privacy Act [click here for the full text]:

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.

Question: what part of that prohibits Florida doctors from asking patients whether or not they own a firearm, and recommending that they ditch their gat or store it safely? “Prohibits harassment of patient regarding firearm ownership during examination”? Maybe. That depends on what you call “harassment.” (The exact text bans “unnecessarily harassing.”) I’m thinking that asking patients about firearms safety does NOT constitute harassment. Unless it does. You?

It’s THE critical question about the bill, signed into law and due to go into effect this year (after judicial challenges). If merely asking the question constitutes harassment then I remain opposed to this legislation. If it doesn’t, I see nothing wrong with any of the bill’s provisions. Let me be clear . . .

I reckon doctors should be able to ask patients anything they like, from how many guns they own to whether or not they use a car seat to why the Tampa Bay Buccaneers suck. And make recommendations on gun ownership, car seat use and the best way to put the Buccaneers back in contention. If a patient is unhappy with the doctor’s questions or recommendations, the patient is free to seek alternative care.

I don’t think doctors should ask about guns. But I believe that the government should stay out of interpersonal relationships of any kind, sort or description. Saying that, I certainly agree that doctors and medical insurers should be prohibited from recording any non-medical information or discriminate against patients based on their exercise right to keep and bear arms, practice religion as they see fit, or any other natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right.

Of course, the anti-gunners don’t see it that way. They continue to consider docs lobbying against gun ownership as fair play. You know; as a public health issue. For the children. ACLU of Florida Executive Director Howard Simon [above] is one of those who opposes the bill. Here’s his take [via huffingtonpost.com]:

Florida legislators have lost their way on the issue of guns. There is a constitutional right (both state and federal) to own a gun. I get it! But the Second Amendment doesn’t trump the First Amendment: The two are not even in conflict.

This is a conflict contrived by the NRA. They should be as strong on gun safety as they are on defending the right to own and possess a weapon. Talking about gun safety is no threat to gun ownership.

Guns, especially in a home with children, are a public health concern. Doctors need to encourage their safe storage to protect families. Given the number of accidental shootings when a child finds an unsecured gun or even brings the weapon to school, offering advice on firearm safety is the duty of every medical practitioner.

It is sad that two of the four federal judges who have looked at this law are so stuck on the gun ownership issue they can’t appreciate the public safety concern . . .

“Do you safely store guns out of the reach of children?” is as much a part of the routine public health and safety concerns of doctors as any of these.

If this law is not struck down and actually inhibits doctors from advising patients on keeping weapons safely out of the reach of children, it could be dangerous — especially for the children of Florida.

There is no legal or moral basis for balancing Constitutionally protected rights against public safety. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: the right to keep and bear arms is not subject to arguments about social utility. You’d hope the ACLU would understand that. Until they realize that, they will continue to make the same mistake as gun control advocates: sacrificing liberty for an illusion of safety.


  1. avatar Mike Crognale says:

    There are no “civil liberties” outside of those that the ACLU thinks should be permitted. It’s the old “everything not specifically permitted is prohibited” story. They are one more cog in the regime’s machine.

  2. avatar Daily Beatings says:

    … to why the Tampa Bay Buccaneers suck.

    Does this doctor really want to ruin his practice in central Florida with that question?

    1. avatar HES says:

      If he really wants to tank his practice hell ask Florida or FSU?

  3. avatar Ken says:

    I don’t worry about my doctor asking me gun questions. She can see and hear me shooting from her house.

  4. avatar Rusty Chains says:

    I have had the same doctor for over 15 years and I doubt he would ever ask this sort of question. That question would be answered: no I don’t, if it was ever asked. My urge that I would have to step hard on would be to say “Not since they were lost in a boating accident, do you own any guns and if so what type of gun do you prefer?”

  5. avatar Jim says:

    More guns are lost in boating accidents. We should do something about that.

    My brother recently retired from the Army. At his VA appointment: Do you own any guns? “Guns? What are guns?”

    1. avatar Gunr says:

      “More guns are lost in boating accidents We should do something about that”
      Somebody should start a company, to make Life jackets for guns! Little ones for hand guns, Long skinny ones for rifles, and scatter guns.
      Then of course the government will mandate that every one that purchases a firearm, MUST buy a “Jacket” to fit./sarc.

  6. avatar Dustin says:

    “the patient is free to seek alternative care.”

    No, the patient is not. Obamacare dictates this.

    1. avatar Gunr says:

      Define “Alternative cars”
      Is that a shovel, and a small lot, 3’x7′ ?

  7. avatar Glenn says:

    “It’s THE critical question about the bill, signed into law and due to go into effect this year (after judicial challenges). If merely asking the question constitutes harassment then I remain opposed to this legislation. If it doesn’t, I see nothing wrong with any of the bill’s provisions. Let me be clear . . .”

    If a doctor asks about gun ownership and then denies services when a patient declines to answer, that is not only harassment, THAT’S EXTORTION.

    And if a patient does answer that he owns guns, that goes into his medical records.
    Which go into the Insurance company’s records.
    Which will eventually go into the Government’s Records.

    Which is a violation of my Liberties.

    1. avatar SCS says:

      “If a doctor asks about gun ownership and then denies services when a patient declines to answer, that is not only harassment, THAT’S EXTORTION.”

      Uhhh no, it is not harassment or extortion. Go find another doctor.

  8. avatar Ralph says:

    Regulated professionals — by law — give up certain of their First Amendment rights. That’s the price one pays for a license. And since I’m paying for the exam, I think it’s fair for doctors to stay on point and STFU about things that are none of their goddam business, like guns.

    I’ve had no problems with my doctors, but if I did, I would ask them if they minded if I counseled their patients on medical issues.

    That would be fair because I know more about guns and medicine than some doctors know about guns or medicine.

    It would also be fair since the incompetence of doctors kills ten times more people every year than are murdered by guns.

    1. avatar racer88 says:

      “Regulated professionals — by law — give up certain of their First Amendment rights.”

      They do? Errr… We do? By LAW? Citation, please.

      First, to my knowledge, no law suspends any individual’s Constitutional Rights. Well… except 2A Rights… Ha!

      As a “doc” myself, I’m not aware of any law, edict, rule, or suggestion that by virtue of my license to practice, I am exempted from the protections offered by the Constitution against government infringement.

      This is NOT to say I believe gun ownership is at all relevant to health care. But, I do believe your assertion about a LAW rescinding the Constitutional Rights of “regulated professionals” is incorrect.

      1. avatar Jarhead1982 says:

        Since the law doesn’t ban your 1A doc, only infringes on it a little, therefore it is legal per anti gun advocates claims….

        After all, no rights are unlimited per anti gun advocates eh…?

  9. avatar Ralph says:

    “the bill, signed into law and due to go into effect this year (after judicial challenges)”

    The 11th Circuit upheld the Florida Docs vs. Glocks law about four days ago. Unless this goes to SCOTUS, which I doubt, the challenges are done.

  10. avatar Indiana Tom says:

    Talking about gun safety is no threat to gun ownership. It is when we never get to join in the discussion.

    1. avatar Jarhead1982 says:

      Funny how the vast majority of gun owners practice firearms safety far and above that which any doctors advice can recommend….

      But feel free to prove how many lives doctors have saved with their safety talks eh LOL

  11. avatar Indiana Tom says:

    Guns, especially in a home with children, are a public health concern. No, it really is not. This should be a parental concern. The state should not be raising kids, including public indoctrination centers.
    Remember, it takes a government village to turn a bright child into a soulless lemming.

    1. avatar Another Robert says:

      There ya’ go!

  12. avatar MiniMe says:

    The way I see it, if a doctor doesn’t know about guns then he/she has no reason to ask about guns to a patient, same way a regular Joe or Jane who doesn’t know about accounting has no reason to be asking the doctor for his financial history.

    My doctor hasn’t asked me about guns nor have I asked him about them, so we’re cool on the subject so far. Hoping it stays that way.

  13. avatar Sean in Tampa says:

    Bucs need to take a lesson from the Bolts and Rays.

  14. avatar Richard in WA says:

    Does anyone actually need A DOCTOR to tell them about proper storage of firearms? “Gee doc, I never knew that storing a loaded firearm in reach of a toddler could be dangerous. Thanks for the advice!”

    If any of my docs ever asks I’m just telling them no, I don’t own any firearms.

  15. avatar m11nine says:

    What about Florida gun owner’s privacy when driving through Maryland? Are they still having their data shared with other states and LE Fusion Centers?


  16. avatar Another Robert says:

    Well, Fla.’s SYG law is not a “license to kill” either, but if the anti’s can’t lie about something, they apparently can’t say anything at all about it.

  17. avatar thewiz says:

    Let’s see. So far my oncologist 2 radiologists. urologist, surgeon, 2 pcp’s a pain doc, numerous doctor and hospital staff have all seen the holster on my hip. yeah, I leave the gun in the truck cause it’s a pain in the ass to have to clear the weapon every time i gotta drop my shorts. Not one has ever made the disparaging word.

  18. avatar 'Liljoe says:

    Doctors can discuss gun safety without asking about guns, if they so choose to do (I talk about sunscreen with my patients all the time and never ask them if they use it, or if they go outside). This law in no way limits anyone’s ability to practice medicine or public health agendas… Unless this isn’t about health and is about registration…. No, it couldn’t be that.

    1. avatar MeRp says:

      I think you have the right idea about the right approach. They could have a prepared spiel about safety around firearms. This could range from the anti-gun doc basically lambasting firearms and saying that no one should know anything about them to the health and safety minded doc who took a measured “if you choose to have guns in your house” approach, along with basic Eddie-Eagle style info for kids (and parents) so that the kids can be safe if they ever encounter a gun in or out of the house.
      None of this (from the anti-gunner to the pro-gunner docs) requires that the doc have any knowledge of whether the patient has any guns in the house. Good safety is good to know even if you don’t have a gun yourself; what if you ever encounter one somewhere else?

  19. avatar jsj says:

    “prohibits discrimination by licensed practitioners or facilities based solely on patient’s firearm ownership or possession; ”

    Or Possession? Seems to me this phrase could be interpreted to prevent healthcare facilities from posting “no firearms” signs.

  20. avatar RetroG says:

    Can I ask and record my doctor’s answers on malpractice suits they’ve been named in? How about their standing in their medical school graduating class? Or how many oxycodone scripts they’ve written this month? Can I lecture them on how many people die due to medical errors?

  21. avatar Shwiggie says:

    Electronic medical records + Obamacare = I have never possessed nor will possess a firearm of any sort, thank you very much for asking.

  22. avatar Gman says:

    I don’t know about the rest of the world, but my doctor works for me. I make an appointment and will wait no longer than 30 minutes past. Then I walk up to the receptionist and tell her to reschedule. If she says I have to pay for the missed appointment, I remind her she works for me, and it’s my money. If my doctor asks me a question I feel is irrelevant then I tell him to mind his own business. The holier than thou attitude pervading the medical industry is outrageous and we all need to remind them they work for US.

  23. avatar Clark45 says:

    Are doctors required to ask their patients about how they store household chemicals? Or if the patient has a swimming pool? What safety measures does the patient take with the pool? What about power tools? What about the liquor cabinet? Or the medicine cabinet?

    So many things that could potentially present a risk are not worrisome to these hoplophobes because GUNZ! As other people have posted, this whole issue is really not about safety, it’s about control.

  24. Medical privacy concerning firearms; prohibitions; penalties; exceptions. A health care practitioner licensed under chapter 456 or a health care facility licensed under chapter 395 may not intentionally enter any disclosed information concerning firearm ownership into the patient’s medical record if the practitioner knows that such information is not relevant to the patient’s medical care or safety, or the safety of others.

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

button to share on facebook
button to tweet
button to share via email