Florida wins appeal to ban pediatricians from protecting kids from gun violence
In Florida, last year, 17 children aged 12 or younger were killed with guns, often accidentally. Serious injuries remain even more common. Yet despite frequent stories about small children gaining access to unsecured guns within the household, Florida has aggressively fought to prevent pediatricians from asking parents about gun ownership or reminding them to store weapons in locked cabinets away from a child’s reach. TeenJury first reported on Florida’s quest in 2011 when they initially passed legislation threatening fines or a loss of medical licensure to any physician who even raises the subject of gun ownership. Later that year, many medical societies joined in a successful appeal that prevented the state from implementing the law. However, last week, two Republican-appointed justices on a Court of Appeals panel ruled that the law is indeed constitutional and should be considered merely a routine “regulation of professional conduct.” While twenty medical societies, including the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, consider such restrictions a clear violation of their First Amendment rights to free speech, the two judge panel felt that asking gun owners about keeping their children safe was “harassment” and that the confidentiality of firearm ownership was at risk. They also did not consider preventing accidental childhood gun violence relevant to good medical practice. The National Rifle Association has sponsored similar laws gagging physician speech in at least six other states.
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