Doctors ask court to lift restrictions on talking to patients about gun ownership
Thousands of doctors who say they've been gagged by a new state law banning their discussion of gun ownership with patients urged a federal judge Wednesday to stop enforcement of the statute — legislation pushed by firearm advocates and signed into law last month by Gov. Rick Scott.
U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke, who is expected to decide on the doctors' petition for a preliminary injunction later this summer, peppered lawyers with questions about the controversial measure. The lawsuit, an ideological battle between advocates of free speech and the right to bear arms, has been dubbed "Docs vs. Glocks."
"What I need to determine, is the legislation itself an unconstitutional burden on speech?" Cooke said during a Miami federal court hearing. "What can't you do now that you could do before?"
Lawyers representing pediatricians and other doctors told the judge that the physicians have had to impose "self-censorship" on health-screening questionnaires and verbal exchanges with patients, because of fears they could face high fines or lose their licenses if they warn families about the risks of keeping guns in homes or other places.