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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.


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  1. Very good post, Mr. Farago. To me it is yet another example of how out of touch politicians have become. As well for the NRA. It’s like when I see a poll on something, local or federal, and wonder why I’ve never been phoned for all these phone polls. It’s just like my never answered emails to anti gun groups and even to the loony guy who recently foresaw the end of days and the rapture. You can see the virtual letter being balled up and tossed out with yesterday’s tofu.

  2. I continue to fail to see the need for or logic in this bill.

    If you want to maintain your privacy:
    Dr: Do you have guns in the house?
    You: No.

    If you think there is some benefit to talking about guns with your doctor:
    Dr: Do you have guns in the house?
    You: Yes.

    ta da…


  3. Beautiful use of the word hopolophobic in a sentence. I just learned the word in yesterdays post. Yet, another useless, looped holed law, although if you want some fun reading you should see some of the useless, out dated laws that are still on the books in most states. You will laugh and cry at the same time

    Whenever two trains meet at an intersection of said tracks, neither shall proceed until the other has. (Try to figure out that one!) WI

  4. This bill does nothing for guns rights and takes away a little bit of 1st amendment rights. Bad bill.

  5. “”””””””””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.””””””””””

    The United States hasn’t had a free market of insurers since the 1960s, and ObamaCare will make certain that it never has one again.

    • I was about to say the same thing. The limited govt argument doesn’t apply since government interferes heavily in the medical care industry. And thanks to the tightening market, PPOs don’t offer as great a choice and choice usually isn’t an option with HMOs. So yeah, Robert, some people don’t have a choice or much of one when it comes to doctors.

      Also, this all stemmed from a case where a MediCaid patient was told by a doctor that they could lose MediCaid coverage if they had a gun in the home with the child. Again, limited government has nothing to do with it.

  6. This bill was a response to a decade-long anti-gun lobbying effort on the part of physicians associations. Actions have consequences.

    RF, you should have mentioned that very important fact before attacking the bill. While we all seem to recognize that there are limits to what is permitted by the Second Amendment, many people forget that the First Amendment has limits as well.

    The precipitating incident that gave birth to the bill:

    Last summer, during an examination of her then-4-month-old baby, Amber Ullman of Summerfield declined to tell her child’s pediatrician whether she owned a gun. Dr. Chris Okonkwo dismissed her from his office, telling her she had 30 days to find a new pediatrician and that she was no longer welcome at Children’s Health of Ocala.

    So, not only was this doctor now off-limits to the patient, EVERY doctor in the clinic was off-limits. And, a call to the police about a “threat” would probably result if this patient returned to the clinic.

    Do you think that is a good precedent to set? I don’t. It’s the death-of-a-thousand-cuts approach to imposing gun control by stealth.

    Some gullible people might think that’s ok. I am not one of them.

    • I remember the story, which we blogged. It was an isolated incident which did not leave the aggrieved party without health care and could have been addressed by an official protest, lawsuit, boycott or just ignoring it and seeing if it goes away. I still don’t see the need to mess with the doctor patient privilege in a legal setting. We need less gun laws, not more.

  7. I would have written the bill to say that they could make no record of gun status and could not communicate the gun status to anyone without a subpeona.

  8. Hi Robert. Overall this bill puts limits on the professional behavior of a licensed practioner and prevents data collection and discrimination.

    It is clear to me from your comments that you have not been exposed to the radical anti-self defense zealots in the California medical professions. This is, unfortunately, a much needed bil which should be supported by firearms owners.

    This bill does not infringe on the rights of doctors to express their anti-self defense and anti-gun owner agenda outside the priviledged doctor patient relationship. It puts limits on the unprofessional behavior of licensed medical practioners to collect personal data about gun owners for political means.

    • That is the intended purpose. But any time you allow the government to limit free speech, you are dancing with the devil in the pale moonlight. Do we know of ANY other cases where medical care was denied a gun owner? And are we SO sure that there were no extenuating circumstances with this ONE case? Sure enough to change public policy?

      • Do you seriously think this doctor did this only one time? Do you think this is the only doctor doing this? Have you not heard about Doctors Against Handgun Injury or the stances of the AMA and the AAP? This is not an isolated incident.

        And you keep saying this is a First Amendment infringement. It is not. It is a state telling doctors that their state license to practice medicine does not extend to dispensing anti-gun messages. States give doctors rights and authorities you and I do not have. They can prescribe powerful drugs. They can dispense medical advice, and they can apply medical care. All things that might get you in trouble if you attempted it. This is simply telling them that the authority doctors have as state licensed practitioners of medicine is not a license to tell people guns are bad.

  9. Found this in a post about WeinerGate, and it’s quite relevant here:

    Unilateral disarmament in political warfare is tantamount to suicide. This is also known as the “The Other Party Does It” defense. Democrats make hay with the faults and infidelities of Republican figures such as John Ensign, Mark Foley, Larry Craig, David Vitter, et al. If they had not made a big deal of Newt Gingrich’s indiscretions, we might be looking at a current or former President Newt right now. Who can say where the devious Rep. Weiner might end up, if he is not (it’s hard to avoid puns here) exposed now for who he really is? If Republicans do not advance the ball when it’s in their possession, they’ll find themselves constantly on defense; if only one side carries out character assassinations on these sorts of things, while the other side gives up its arms, the latter will get slaughtered, will it not? And perhaps we will find ourselves under the governance of leaders who are profoundly morally corrupt?


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