An editorial published online Thursday in a leading national medical journal sharply criticizes a new Florida law banning doctors from asking patients if they own guns.
Calling the law "an unprecedented intrusion into the patient-physician relationship," the authors write in the Journal of the American Medical Association that Florida set a dangerous precedent.
Doctors who ask about gun ownership risk being disciplined under the vague exceptions in the law, the authors note.
But those who don't ask risk abandoning their ethical obligation to help patients.
And having firearms in the home significantly increases the risk of death and injury. "The censorship — heavily lobbied for by the National Rifle Association — essentially requires clinicians to put political groups' interests ahead of patients' interests," says the article written by a doctor and a lawyer from Harvard.
In June, Gov. Rick Scott signed the legislation into law. Last month, thousands of doctors asked a federal judge to stop its enforcement.