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Florida to prohibit doctors from questioning whether patients own firearms

Saturday, May 14, 2011 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: doctors, guns, health news

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(NaturalNews) A new bill that recently passed the Florida state legislature will make it illegal for doctors to interrogate patients about whether or not they own firearms. If signed into law by Governor Rick Scott, House Bill 155 will make Florida the first US state to protect the privacy of its patients who exercise their Second Amendment right to bear arms, and who wish to not disclose that information to their doctors.

HB 155 emerged in response to an Ocala, Fla., incident involving a woman who was questioned by her daughter's pediatrician about gun ownership. After refusing to answer this and a number of other unnecessary and invasive personal questions, the woman was told by the pediatrician that she had 30 days to find a new doctor, and that she was no longer welcome at the office (http://www.ocala.com/article/20100724/ARTICL...).

Opponents of the bill say that it puts children and young adults at risk because questions about gun ownership are designed to ensure that weapons are stored properly at home. But supporters say that such questions are a violation of privacy rights, and like in the Ocala case, can be used to discriminate against patients who either own firearms, or who refuse to disclose personal details about them.

A caveat in the bill does specifically allow doctors to ask about guns only if the inquiry "is relevant to the patient's medical care or safety, or the safety of others," according to FairWarning. However, some opponents say this exception is not written clearly enough to be all that effective.

"The bill sends a message that the privacy rights of patients have absolutely nothing to do with medical care and is not within the view of any doctor," said Marion Hammer, former president of the National Rifle Association (NRA), to FoxNews.com (http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/05/10/f...). "If it's a safety issue, there's nothing in the law to prohibit them from disseminating that information."

Legislators in Virginia, West Virginia, Alabama, and North Carolina have proposed similar legislation, and many others states may follow their lead as increasing numbers of privacy cases arise.

Sources for this story include:

http://www.fairwarning.org/2011/05/florida-l...

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