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Physicians’ First Amendment Rights to Discuss Firearms With Patients Upheld in Florida

A federal judge has ruled that the state of Florida may not enforce a “firearm gag rule”—a law backed by the National Rifle Association (NRA) that banned physicians practicing in the state from discussing gun ownership with their patients.

The Florida Privacy of Firearm Owners Act, which came into force last July, requires licensed health care practitioners to “respect a patient’s right to privacy” and refrain from asking about gun ownership or the presence of firearms in their homes. It also said clinicians should refrain from discriminating against patients based solely on a patient’s “firearm ownership or possession.”

Medical groups challenged the constitutionality of the legislation. On June 29, federal District Judge Marcia Cooke struck down the statute as a violation of physicians’ First Amendment rights to openly discuss firearm safety with their patients. The court found that the statute “aims to restrict a practitioner’s ability to provide truthful, non-misleading information to a patient.”1

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