The state is not appealing a federal court ruling that barred Florida’s law against health care workers asking about their patients’ firearms.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi‘s office and Gov. Rick Scott’s office confirmed to reporters this week that the state will retire from fighting their prolonged battle with physicians’ lobby groups in the case of Wollschlaegerr v. Florida, more popularly known as “Docs vs. Glocks.”
“As a strong supporter of (the) Second Amendment, Governor Scott is glad that a vast majority of this law was never challenged and upheld in court,” said Scott spokeswoman Lauren Schenone.
In February, a 10-1 panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals felt the Firearm Owners’ Privacy Act, signed into law by Scott in 2011 after passage by the state legislature, placed health care providers at a dangerous crossroads that in the end had a chilling effect on how they could talk to their patients.
“Doctors can choose silence and self-censorship, thereby shouldering the burden of knowing they could have said more, counseled more, and warned more before a tragic accident,” said Judge Stanley Marcus in one of two majority opinions. “Or they may proceed with their speech and potentially face punishment according to the arbitrary whims of annoyed patients or a Board of Medicine that is wholly unrestrained by clear statutory guidelines.”
Dr. Louis St. Petery, a Tallahassee pediatrician and plaintiff in the case, says the courts were correct in their ruling.
“And if they have a gun we want to counsel them about the proper storage of that gun,” said St. Petery. “So, the gun should at least have a trigger lock. It shouldn’t be where kids could reach it.”
Second Amendment advocates argued the physicians’ groups kept pressing through three pro-gun victories in the litigation until they achieved a sympathetic ruling to part of their claim, as the portion of the law holding that doctors cannot discriminate against or drop patients due to their feelings on firearms remains in effect.
“The court went out of its way to find a way to declare that it is a violation of the First Amendment to protect the Second Amendment,” Marion Hammer, executive director of the Unified Sportsmen of Florida and a former National Rifle Association told Guns.com. “Plaintiffs claiming victory are ignoring the fact that the court only struck a portion of the law.
“I wonder how that court would rule on a law that stops doctors from asking elderly patients to disclose their assets so they could coerce them into bequeathing assets to them when they die?” said Hammer.