Taking a Stand on “Docs vs. Glocks” in Florida

kids and gun safety

Florida is known for having some of the most extreme gun laws in the country. Remember, for example, its so-called “stand your ground” (or “shoot first”) law that received national attention in the aftermath of the tragic Trayvon Martin shooting? Florida also enacted one of America’s first “shall issue” laws, requiring law enforcement to issue concealed weapons permits to almost anyone who wants to carry a loaded, hidden handgun in public.

Florida outdid itself in 2011, however, when it became the first state in the nation to prohibit doctors from asking their patients about gun ownership. A group of Florida doctors and physician groups soon filed a lawsuit, arguing that the outrageous law interfered with their free speech rights under the First Amendment, as well as their ability to care for their patients by warning them about the dangers of firearm ownership. The district court agreed, finding that “[t]he law chills practitioners’ speech in a way that impairs the provision of medical care and may ultimately harm the patient.” The court’s order prohibited the state from enforcing the law.

The American Bar Association has also spoken out against “medical gag laws.” At its annual meeting last month, the ABA adopted a resolution expressing strong opposition to such laws. The accompanying report stated that:

For medical practitioners to meet their preventive care and safety counseling responsibilities, they must be able to discuss a broad range of topics with their patients related to known risk factors. This unfettered access allows doctors to adequately assess and address these factors with their patients. Risk factors that may be discussed vary depending on the age of the patient, but for adults often include alcohol consumption, illicit drug use, smoking, diet, and exercise; pediatricians often discuss wearing seat belts and bicycle helmets, the potential dangers of backyard swimming pools, and the need to securely store household cleaners and toxins. Firearms in the home are another known risk factor that doctors may choose to discuss with their patients or the parents of young patients.

We couldn’t agree more. We are proud to join with America’s preeminent legal organization, which has nearly 400,000 members, in taking a stand on this important topic. The Law Center will be filing an amicus (friend of the court) brief in the appellate court in support of the doctors fighting for their rights to care for their patients in Florida. Our brief will focus on the significant health risks presented by guns in the home and will be joined by public health groups, including the American Academy of Suicidology.

American Bar Association Adopts Resolution Supporting Common Sense Concealed Carry Laws

WHAT HAPPENED?
The American Bar Association–representing nearly 400,000 attorneys nationwide–adopted a resolution in July 2011 expressing support for laws that provide broad discretion for law enforcement to approve or deny applications for concealed carry licenses. The resolution further states the ABA’s opposition to laws that limit discretion in concealed carry licensing, as well as to federal legislation that would require states to recognize licenses issues by other states.

HOW SAFETY WINS
An influential, national organization took a stand against laws that put the public at risk by allowing dangerous individuals to carry concealed weapons in public places. The ABA’s resolution is especially critical now that a dangerous federal bill (H.R. 822), has passed the House of Representatives and is headed to the Senate. This legislation would force states like California, which has enacted safeguards to keep dangerous individuals from obtaining permits to carry concealed weapons, to recognize permits from other states no matter how lax their permitting laws are.

American Bar Association Adopts Resolution Supporting Common Sense Concealed Carry Laws

The Law Center applauds the American Bar Association – the preeminent voice for the legal community, representing nearly 400,000 attorneys nationwide – for taking an important stand in the battle over the carrying of concealed, loaded handguns in public places. On July 22, the ABA adopted a resolution expressing support for laws that provide broad discretion for law enforcement to approve or deny applications for concealed carry licenses. The resolution further states the ABA’s opposition to laws that limit discretion in concealed carry licensing, as well as to federal legislation that would require states to recognize licenses issues by other states.

Over the past five decades, the ABA has courageously endorsed a variety of common sense policy measures to prevent gun violence. Our political leaders would be wise to follow the Association’s lead.