State Rep. Rick Kriseman announces bill to repeal Florida law forbidding doctors from asking about guns

09/13/11 Janelle Irwin
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Update to this story: on Wednesday (September 14) a federal judge found Florida's law forbidding doctors from talking about guns with their patients to be an unconstitutional infringement on the free speech rights of both doctors and patients.

State Representative Rick Kriseman introduced a bill that would repeal a law that forbids physicians from discussing gun safety with patients. House Bill 1405 is intended to give doctors back their rights to discuss potential health concerns and continue their ability to uphold their commitment to patient/doctor confidentiality.

The so-called "Docs verses Glocks" bill was signed into law by Governor Rick Scott in early June. It forbids physicians from asking patients about gun ownership or discussing gun safety with them. Representative Kriseman said the law contradicts views of the Republican-majority legislature.

The law was backed by the National Rifle Association. Its supporters say the legislation does allow doctors to ask about guns in the home if they believe it is relevant to a patient’s health. But opponents have argued the fear of litigation will keep physicians from asking. Dr. Mona Mangat said there are 16-20 deaths associated with accidental discharge of firearms in Florida each year.

Mangat compared teaching gun safety practices to other precautionary measures that are not banned by laws. In fact, doctors are encouraged to provide parents with the tools to help parents keep their kids not just healthy, but safe.

Representative Kriseman said a lot of bills get railroaded through the legislative process, but after further investigation many lawmakers have a change of heart. He described the law’s continued enforcement as a slippery slope that could lead to further damaging healthcare legislation.

Kriseman added, many families relocate from other states and are unfamiliar with Florida’s gun safety laws.

Kriseman said he doesn’t expect lawmakers in Tallahassee to schedule this bill for a committee hearing, but he will continue to speak out against bad legislation.

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