Florida doctors now free to ask patients about guns

Federal judge sides with doctors

Pediatric cardiologist Dr. Louis St. Petery has been leading the fight to keep asking parents whether they own a gun. He says asking can make all the difference in the world.

"If you just give them a pamphlet, we just find them lying in the parking lot and they just forget about it," he said. "But if you give them six things to do and you actually discuss it, it's more likely they'll do at least one of those things."

A compromise resulted in language saying doctors should refrain from asking about gun ownership. But pediatricians challenged the law anyway. Now a federal judge has agreed with the pediatricians.

"What this has done today is save many children," said Dr. Mobeen Rathore, of the Florida Pediatric Society.

The governor's office promises an appeal. Second amendment advocates have always feared if you are asked if you own a gun, it'll end up in a medical record, and that information could be used later to confiscate the gun.

Reached by phone, former NRA President Marion Hammer says doctors can still pass on safety information, without asking if you own a gun.

"The Bill of Rights contains protections and does not favor one right over the other, nor does it allow one right to chill another right," said Hammer.

The legislation was enacted after several reports cropped up of doctors refusing to serve patients, who refused to answer the gun question.

The law says doctors could face disciplinary action if they ask about gun ownership.

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