Doc­tors can now dis­cuss gun safety with pa­tients

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - NATION -

2 MI­AMI >> A fed­eral ap­peals court cleared the way Thurs­day for Florida doc­tors to talk to their pa­tients about gun safety, over­turn­ing a 2011 law that pit­ted med­i­cal providers against the state’s pow­er­ful gun lobby.

In its 10-1 rul­ing, the full panel of the 11th U.S. Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals con­cluded that doc­tors could not be threat­ened with los­ing their li­cense for ask­ing pa­tients whether they owned guns and for dis­cussing gun safety be­cause to do so would vi­o­late their free speech.

“Florida does not have carte blanche to re­strict the speech of doc­tors and med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als on a cer­tain sub­ject without sat­is­fy­ing the de­mands of height­ened scru­tiny,” the ma­jor­ity wrote in its de­ci­sion. In its law­suit, the med­i­cal com­mu­nity ar­gued that ques­tions about gun stor­age were cru­cial to pub­lic health be­cause of the re­la­tion­ship be­tween firearms and both the sui­cide rate and the gun-re­lated deaths of chil­dren. A num­ber of doc­tors and med­i­cal or­ga­ni­za­tions sued Florida in a case that came to be known as Docs v. Glocks, after the pop­u­lar hand­gun.

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