Physician groups slam "Docs vs. Glocks'' ruling
Friday's decision by a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold Florida's law against physicians asking patients about guns prompted sharply worded statements Monday from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association.
An earlier injunction blocking enforcement of the "physician gag law,'' also known as "docs vs. Glocks'' remains in effect while the full court considers an appeal by the plaintiffs to rehear the case. The pediatrician's group said Monday it is urging its members to keep asking parents whether they have guns at home, and if so whether they are stored safely.
"We strongly disagree with the 11th Circuit's decision. It is an egregious violation of the First Amendment rights of pediatricians and threatens our ability to provide our patients and their families with scientific, unbiased information," said Dr. Mobeen Rathore, president of the Florida chapter of the AAP, the Florida Pediatric Society. "This dangerous decision gives state legislatures free license to restrict physicians from asking important questions about health and safety that are vital to providing the best medical care to patients."
Added Dr. James M. Perrin, president of the national group: "State legislatures should not stop physicians from practicing good medicine. This law has a chilling effect on life-saving conversations that take place in the physician's office.
"More than 4,000 children are killed by guns every year. Parents who own firearms must keep them locked, with the ammunition locked away separately. In this case, a simple conversation can prevent a tragedy. The evidence is overwhelming – young children simply cannot be taught to overcome their curiosity about guns, and to suggest otherwise is, frankly, the height of irresponsibility."
Later Monday, AMA President Dr. Robert M. Wah also weighed in.
“The AMA will continue to oppose governmental intrusions into the clinical examination room and calls on lawmakers to leave determination of what constitutes medically necessary treatment where it belongs—in the hands of physicians and patients,'' he said in a statement.
The Florida Privacy of Firearm Owners Act was signed by Florida Gov. Rick Scott in June 2011. According to the AAP, since Florida approved its law, at least 10 other states have introduced similar bills but none have passed.