Make us your home page

The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

NRA (2nd Amendment) and FMA (1st Amendment) call a truce.



The National Rifle Association has met its match in its pursuit of the Second Amendment: The First Amendment rights of doctors and the Florida Medical Association.

So the NRA and FMA have agreed on a compromise to remove what many say was objectionable language in a gun bill that sought to punish medical professionals from inquiring about firearms in the home.

To many on the Senate Health Regulation Committee, the bill was a violation of free-speech rights. So this week, it opted not to take the measure up. The FMA approached the NRA's Marion Hammer right after the meeting to work out a deal. The doctor lobby wanted to focus on lawsuit reform, and the last thing it wanted was a fight with the strongest single woman in the Tallahassee lobby corps. Hammer was unyielding at first. But the FMA brought her along. It helped that Hammer didn't have the votes.

Under the accord, doctors agree not to keep lists of firearm owners (which they say they don’t anyway) and they would agree not to discharge patients solely because they owned firearms. Incidentally, doctors, namely pediatricians, say they often ask about guns to make sure parents safely store them. Physicians also ask suicidal and depressed patients about firearms.

"It's less than we wanted and more than they wanted," said Hammer. "We're pleased to work with the FMA to come up with an agreement."

An amendment memorializing the agreement has been filed by Sen. Thad Altman. The amendment essentially scales back all the tough NRA language. Some examples of the strike-all amendment:

*Physicians "may not intentionally enter firearm information into a patients medical record “when the provider knows that such information is not relevant to the patient’s medical care or safety”

*Physicians “should refrain from making a written inquiry or asking questions concerning the ownership of a firearm or ammunition by the patient or by a family member of the patient.”

*“A patient’s decision not to answer a question relating to the 30 presence or ownership of a firearm does not alter existing law regarding a physician’s authorization to choose his or her patients.

*Physicians “May not discriminate against a patient based solely upon the patient’s exercise of the constitutional right to own and possess firearms or ammunition.... shall respect a patient’s legal right to own or possess a firearm and should refrain from unnecessarily harassing a patient about firearm ownership during an examination.”

Download Amend

[Last modified: Friday, March 25, 2011 6:41pm]


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours