A Pediatrician’s Viewpoint: Why Florida’s Firearm Owners’ Privacy Act should be repealed

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www.bradycampaign.org

bradycampaign.org

An important role of a pediatrician is helping parents keep their children safe.  Florida’s 2011 Firearm Owners’ Privacy Act impedes this role.

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals recently upheld this law, which limits healthcare providers’ ability to discuss gun safety.  Among other provisions, the law prohibits practitioners from asking about ownership or possession of firearms unless it is “relevant to the patient’s medical care or safety, or the safety of others.”

According to AskingSavesKids.org, one-third of children live in homes with guns and over 18,000 children and adolescents suffer gun-related injuries or fatalities annually. (Click here for more data).

Source: http://askingsaveskids.org/about-ask

askingsaveskids.org

It is clear why the Bright Futures Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children, and Adolescents include a discussion of gun safety in the recommended anticipatory guidance. The conversation is about safety, NOT gun rights.

Citing the above statistics, a pediatrician could easily argue that inquiring about firearm ownership during routine exams is always “relevant to the patient’s medical care or safety.” Unfortunately, in a decision praised by the National Rifle Association, the appellate court’s opinion seemed to disagree, using phrases such as “irrelevant inquiry” and “unrelated to healthcare.” This ambiguity of the law and threat of “disciplinary action” would discourage most physicians from having these necessary conversations.

Joining several other professional organizations in opposing the law, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a statement highlighting the risks it poses to children. Fortunately an injunction is still in place and further appeals are expected.

While this law only applies to Florida, several other states have attempted to pass similar legislation. It is now critical that providers, public health professionals, and parents speak out against the law in an effort to repeal it and prevent passage of similar laws elsewhere.  Click here for ideas to get started from BradyCampaign.org.

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One Response to “A Pediatrician’s Viewpoint: Why Florida’s Firearm Owners’ Privacy Act should be repealed”

  1. ksole1 Says:

    Wow, I cannot believe that it is now against the law to advocate for our patients’ safety. Perhaps it is because I have been living abroad for a while in countries with very strict gun laws (and relatively low crime rates!), but I just don’t understand how any rational court in any country would uphold this Florida law. America’s love affair with guns is no longer bordering on the ridiculous — it is now downright dangerous to the health of our children. Doctors have an obligation to advocate for their patients and protect, promote and maintain their health. If we cannot talk about gun safety with parents, what is the government going to prevent us from talking about next? Second-hand smoke? Hand washing? Domestic violence? Seat belts? Safe sex? Not only is this law a major infringement on our right to free speech, but the law prevents doctors from practicing good medicine and promoting public health.

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