NRA Explore
APPEARS IN Legal & Legislation

Eleventh Circuit Upholds Florida's Patient Privacy Law

Thursday, November 6, 2014

In a victory for gun owners who simply seek medical care, not political philosophy, from their doctors, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has upheld the NRA-supported Florida’s Firearm Owner’s Privacy Act. This law was passed after an escalating series of events in which patients were harassed or denied access to services because they refused to be interrogated by their doctors about their ownership of firearms. The case, Wollschlaeger v. Governor of Florida, vindicated Florida’s attempt to protect patients from being forced to divulge personal information that is irrelevant to their own medical treatment.

In challenging the law, Dr. Wollschlaeger and the other plaintiffs insisted they had a First Amendment right to routinely grill patients on their choices concerning firearm ownership, without regard to any good faith belief such information was relevant to the patient’s individual case. They also alleged the law’s proscriptions were unconstitutionally vague.

The Court of Appeals rejected these claims.  “The essence of the Act,” the court’s opinion stated, “is simple: medical practitioners should not record information or inquire about patients’ firearm-ownership status when doing so is not necessary to providing the patient with good medical care.” Accordingly, the court determined that “[t]he Act merely circumscribes the unnecessary collection of patient information on one of many potential sensitive topics.”

As the court noted, nothing in the Florida law prohibits doctors from expressing their views about firearms or about any other medical or public policy issue. Rather, the law is within keeping of long-established “codes of conduct that define the practice of good medicine and affirm the responsibility that physicians bear” and “protects a patient’s ability to receive effective medical treatment without compromising the patient’s privacy with regard to matters unrelated to healthcare.”

The NRA participated in the case with a friend of the court brief in the Eleventh Circuit proceedings, and a number of the points it made are echoed in the majority opinion of the court. The brief challenged the plaintiffs’ case on several grounds, arguing that the physicians and organization do not have standing to bring the suit, that the Act does not violate the First Amendment, and that the Act is not unconstitutionally vague.

 

In arguing against the plaintiffs’ standing, the brief explained that the act does not “chill” the plaintiffs’ speech, as “the Act by its terms simply does not restrict the speech in which [the plaintiffs] wish to engage.” 

 

While disputing the plaintiffs’ First Amendment claims, the brief noted that the Act is a “reasonable regulation of speech incidental to the practice of medicine.” The NRA filing explained the Act serves the State’s interest in protecting the privacy of patients, as well as the patients’ exercise of Second Amendment rights. In concluding the First Amendment argument, the brief declared, “The Firearm Owners’ Privacy Act is another reasonable regulation of the medical practice. It exhorts doctors to stick to practicing medicine when examining patients, rather than pushing their own political agendas, and it protects patients from doctors who refuse to do so.”


Plaintiffs in the case have requested additional review before a full panel of the Eleventh Circuit, but the court has not yet ruled on the petition for rehearing. In the meantime, however, patients who prefer to focus on their symptoms, and not their doctors’ politics, in the examination room should have more reason to feel at ease. 

TRENDING NOW
Bloomberg-Backed Pennsylvania Attorney General Convicted of Perjury, Criminal Conspiracy

News  

Friday, August 19, 2016

Bloomberg-Backed Pennsylvania Attorney General Convicted of Perjury, Criminal Conspiracy

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane resigned this week after a jury found her guilty of perjury, criminal conspiracy, and several other criminal charges relating to the abuse of her position. Gun owners will take ...

New York Times Issues Ridiculous Anti-NRA Screed

News  

Friday, August 19, 2016

New York Times Issues Ridiculous Anti-NRA Screed

At the same time establishment newspapers are openly abandoning their usual façade of impartiality in their news coverage, their editorial boards have been working overtime to elect Hillary Clinton. However, few have been doing Robby Mook and David Brock’s work for ...

Professor: Take Granny’s Gun

News  

Friday, August 19, 2016

Professor: Take Granny’s Gun

Gun ban advocates, knowing their goals aren’t especially popular with the American people, have in recent years tried to couch their agenda in more innocuous-sounding terms. They don’t want to ban all guns, they’ll say, they ...

Massachusetts Attorney General Unilaterally Bans Thousands of Previously Legal Guns

News  

Friday, July 22, 2016

Massachusetts Attorney General Unilaterally Bans Thousands of Previously Legal Guns

On July 19, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey issued an “enforcement notice” that greatly expands the Commonwealth’s definition of “assault weapon.”  AG Healey alleges that the ban’s definition of “copy” or “duplicate” “assault weapons” has been misinterpreted ...

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

The Washington Post Fails Again

News  

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Washington Post Fails Again

On Monday, the Post’s “fact-checker,” Glenn Kessler, said that the NRA's new TV ad is wrong, in claiming that Clinton “doesn’t believe in your right to keep a gun at home for self-defense.”

California: Register for the Second FREE Webinar on Recently Signed Gun Control Legislation

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

California: Register for the Second FREE Webinar on Recently Signed Gun Control Legislation

Tomorrow, August 24, 2016, at 12:00 pm, is the second of three FREE webinars hosted by NRA & CRPA’s legal team on California’s recently signed anti-firearm legislation.  Learn about how the recently signed gun laws ...

Doctor Prescribes Requiring a “Medical License” for Gun Ownership

News  

Friday, August 19, 2016

Doctor Prescribes Requiring a “Medical License” for Gun Ownership

In a recent Medical Economics blog, Dr. Monya De wrote a piece titled, “Obtaining an assault rifle should be as difficult as becoming a doctor.”  In this outlandish article, De illustrates the difficulties medical students must go ...

Clearer Heads Prevail in New Mexico Firearm Raffle

News  

Friday, August 19, 2016

Clearer Heads Prevail in New Mexico Firearm Raffle

As we previously reported, a charity firearm raffle by a United Way chapter in New Mexico was put in jeopardy when an anti-gun activist interfered by convincing  United Way Worldwide to block the raffle.  The chapter ...

Fight for Recognition of Second Amendment in California Continues With New Federal Lawsuit

News  

Friday, August 19, 2016

Fight for Recognition of Second Amendment in California Continues With New Federal Lawsuit

On August 10th, the California Rifle & Pistol Association and several individuals, with the support of the National Rifle Association, filed a lawsuit in federal court to vindicate the Second Amendment right of Californians to ...

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -
NRA ILA

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.