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**REPORT on Rounds 3 & 4 ** Stopping Privacy Violations & Restoring Concealed Weapons Rights in Florida

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

DATE:       February 23, 2011
TO:            USF & NRA Member and Friends
FROM:      Marion P. Hammer
                 USF Executive Director 
                 NRA Past President

REPORT ON  ROUND 3

SB 432 to STOP Doctors Violating Patients Gun Privacy Rights

Senate Bill 432, introduced by Senator Greg Evers (R-2) was heard yesterday, February 22 in the Senate Criminal Justice Committee and PASSED by a vote of 4 to 1.

SB 432
would stop anti-gun doctors from asking children and parents if they own guns and then telling them to get rid of their guns.  It further stops doctors from denying care to children if the parents refuse to answer questions about gun ownership.

This bill is designed to make doctors practice medicine NOT practice gun ban politics in their examination rooms.  As a parent or a patient you have a right to protect your privacy about gun ownership.  How many guns you own and where they are stored is your personal and private information.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is pushing its anti-gun agenda of banning and removing guns from homes in Florida.


Voting to uphold the law and the Constitution and to protect your firearms rights were the following:

Senator Greg Evers (R-2)  evers.greg.web@flsenate.gov
Senator Charlie Dean (R-3)  dean.charles.web@flsenate.gov
Senator Andy Gardiner(R-9) gardiner.andy.web@flsenate.gov
Senator Chris Smith (D-29) smith.chris.web@flsenate.gov

(Senator Gardiner was substituting for Senator Paula Dockery (R) who had an excused illness.)

Voting against protecting the privacy rights of gun owners:

Senator Gwen Margolis (D-35) margolis.gwen@web.flsenate.gov

Your e-mails to the Senators were very effective (many thanks for your help).


REPORT ON  ROUND 4

SB 234 Help Restore Rights to Concealed Weapons License Holders in Florida

Includes Concealed Weapons License Open-Carry, Campus-Carry, Guns-In-Vehicles and Purchase of Long Guns in other states

Senate Bill 234, introduced by Senator Greg Evers (R-2) was on the agenda but was not heard by the Senate Criminal Justice Committee yesterday.

We will keep you posted on when SB 234 will come up before the Senate Criminal Justice Committee again.


WHY SB 432 IS NEEDED:

Below is the prepared testimony of Marion P. Hammer for SB 432 Privacy Rights of Patient give during the Senate Criminal Justice Committee hearing held on February 22.

Let's be clear. This bill has nothing to do with First Amendment Rights. The First Amendment does not allow doctors to violate the privacy rights of patients. It does not allow them to interrogate patients about the private personal property they own. It does however, give patients the right NOT to speak –– not to answer intrusive questions and the right not to punished for exercising that right.

Approximately six years ago I went to the Florida Medical Association's Executive Director and urged her to address her Board and ask them to help put a stop to the growing problem of doctors pushing gun ban politics on patients.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association have been pushing a gun ban agenda for 8 to 10 years and have been bringing their gun ban politics into the examining rooms of Florida doctors. Their gun ban message is on their website –– They want to ban guns and until guns can be banned they advise doctors to tell parents to get rid of their guns.  That's not about safety.  It's about gun ban politics.

We have tried to protect families from anti-gun politics when they seek medical care so we wouldn't have to seek legislation.  But the problem has only gotten worse.

This bill comes in answer to families who are complaining about the growing political agenda being carried out in examination rooms by doctors and medical staffs -- and the arrogant berating if a patient refuses to answer questions that violate privacy rights and offend common decency.

We take our children to physicians for medical care, not moral judgment, political harassment and privacy intrusions -- and that is what this bill is intended to prohibit.

Horrified parents have described nurses entering the answers to gun questions into laptop computers to become a part of medical records. They have become concerned about whether those records can be used by the government or insurance companies or deny healthcare coverage because a family exercises a civil right in owning firearms.

Every single day in Florida, physicians are violating patient's privacy rights and people are furious.  Questioning patients about gun ownership to satisfy a doctor's political agenda, and withholding medical care when patients are most vulnerable has to stop.

Patients are telling me that they are afraid to stand up to their doctors because they fear retaliation for refusing to answer.  They fear retribution if they speak up publically.  They fear they will be without medical care because their pediatrician not only won't see their children any more, but they are afraid of being blackballed in the medical community by these anti-gun doctors.

We think of doctors as healers -- trusted medical practitioners who cure our diseases, heal our wounds and stop our pain. 

We are now being forced to see them as political operatives who abuse our trust by interrogating our families and attempting to invade our privacy on matters that have nothing at all to do with the medical care we seek.

I have many cases that I can't share with you because families don't want to be further abused.

One father feared the doctor would retaliate and call social services because the anti-gun doctor thinks it's dangerous to have guns in the home.

Another family wrote of their concern because their pediatrician's office manager told them they were required by Florida law to ask if they had guns in the home and that Medicaid would not pay claims if they didn't answer gun questions.

Let me take a moment and ask you how you would react if this "incident" happened to one of your constituents:   Hypothetically speaking.

A mother takes her toddler to the pediatrician for a check-up – the same pediatrician she has used since he was born.

Out of the clear, the doctor asks if she or her husband own guns? She is shocked and stunned. She responds "Do YOU own a gun?"

He fires back, "Whether or not I own a gun is none of your business." Again she is shocked.  She responds, "Right back at you."

He gets very angry and walks out of the examining room while she waits for over 30 minutes with a nude toddler waiting to be examined. Finally a nurse comes in and says the doctor is not coming back. And they need the room, so please leave.

She dressed her child and left.

Because she didn't stop and pay on the way out, she received a bill which she refused to pay because the doctor never examined her child.

Subsequently, the family was turned over to a collection agency which harassed the family.

They hired an attorney to protect their credit and their rights.

The doctor's attorney wanted to settle it quietly and tried to get the doctor to cancel the bill and apologize to the family. The doctor cancelled the bill but never apologized. Instead, the family was advised that they are not welcome back and the doctor will not see their child anymore.

To further punish the family, while playing golf the next week, the physician tells his golf partners – fellow doctors – HIS version of what happened.

When the family tried to find a new doctor, a funny thing happened -- none of the pediatricians in the town were taking new patients.

Clearly, all physicians and certainly most do not treat patients this way.  But how many does it take?

This pattern of behavior clearly is not about safety.  It has nothing to do with bicycle helmets or seat belts or car seats.  Further, those products don't have constitutional protection and nobody is trying to ban them. It is about politics.  Pure, raw, anti-gun politics being imposed on patients when they are most vulnerable, when they are sick or hurt and need help.

Doctors should NOT behave like social workers or gun monitors or gun registration bureaus.  They need to practice of medicine and stop the practice of politics in the examining room.

As parents, we are responsible for our children's safety. We don't need doctors pushing their anti-gun politics on us or our kids. We need them to stop prying into our personal lives on issues that have nothing to do with disease, its cure, or its eradication.

We urge you to support this bill.

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.