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
Virginia Politician and Clinton Backer Brands Trump Supporters as “Mentally Deficient”

News  

Friday, September 23, 2016

Virginia Politician and Clinton Backer Brands Trump Supporters as “Mentally Deficient”

With the presidential race tighter than ever as it heads into its final stretch, panicked Hillary Clinton supporters are desperate to find a way to discredit, not just Donald Trump, but anyone who would dare ...

California: Governor Brown Takes Action on Final Firearm-Related Bills

Monday, September 26, 2016

California: Governor Brown Takes Action on Final Firearm-Related Bills

Today, Governor Brown made his decision on the final firearm-related bills of the 2016 legislative session that made it to his desk.   Governor Brown vetoed two anti-gun bills, AB 450 and SB 1332, and signed ...

Show Your Support—NEW NRA Yard Signs Available!

News  

Friday, September 23, 2016

Show Your Support—NEW NRA Yard Signs Available!

Show your support for NRA and the Second Amendment this election cycle by purchasing an NRA yard sign.  With everything that is at stake this year, including the Presidency, the balance of the U.S. Senate ...

War on Terror or a War on Guns?

News  

Friday, September 23, 2016

War on Terror or a War on Guns?

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, was in New York City recently on an official visit. Commenting on the bombs that exploded while he was in town, he opined that such attacks are now simply ...

Montana: Bloomberg Targeting Missoula – Your Action Needed NOW!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Montana: Bloomberg Targeting Missoula – Your Action Needed NOW!

On Monday, September 26, the Missoula City Council is scheduled to consider an ordinance that would only create a burden for law-abiding citizens and may turn them into criminals if they unknowingly violate the ordinance.

Get the Official NRA-ILA App for an Exclusive NRA Store Discount!

Take Action  

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Get the Official NRA-ILA App for an Exclusive NRA Store Discount!

For a limited time only, the official NRA Store is offering a special deal to anyone who downloads the NRA-ILA App! Once the app is installed on your smartphone, you’ll receive a discount code that you can ...

Pennsylvania: Semi-Automatic Rifle Hunting Legislation will go to the House Floor Next Week!

Hunting  

Friday, September 23, 2016

Pennsylvania: Semi-Automatic Rifle Hunting Legislation will go to the House Floor Next Week!

Next week, and important pro-hunting reform bill, Senate Bill 737, may be considered in the House of Representatives.  Please call your state Representative and urge them to vote in favor of Senate Bill 737!

California: Final Weekend to Sign Referendum Petitions, Signatures Still Needed

Friday, September 23, 2016

California: Final Weekend to Sign Referendum Petitions, Signatures Still Needed

This is the last weekend to sign the referendum petitions! Signatures are still needed to ensure each of the Veto Gunmageddon Referendums qualify for the 2018 ballot.

California: Signature Efforts for Veto Gunmageddon Extended to September 24th

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

California: Signature Efforts for Veto Gunmageddon Extended to September 24th

If you have not yet signed the petitions to repeal the seven gun bills signed by Governor Jerry Brown earlier this year, please make sure that you do so by September 24th! After that, all ...

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.

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.