Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

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
Seattle Gun Tax Fails to Generate Projected Revenue, Succeeds in Burdening Rights

News  

Gun Laws  

Friday, March 24, 2017

Seattle Gun Tax Fails to Generate Projected Revenue, Succeeds in Burdening Rights

On March 16, 2017, the Seattle Times reported that Seattle city officials were reluctant to release data on the revenue generated by the city’s firearms and ammunition tax, citing taxpayer confidentiality concerns. Less than a ...

Wisconsin: Important Right to Carry Bill Introduced

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Wisconsin: Important Right to Carry Bill Introduced

Today, LRB 2039/1 was introduced to the Wisconsin State Legislature.  This Right to Carry bill would allow for the concealed carry of a firearm without a concealed carry license anywhere in the state where an ...

Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee Embraces Heller and Originalism During Senate Hearings

News  

Second Amendment  

Friday, March 24, 2017

Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee Embraces Heller and Originalism During Senate Hearings

Judge Neil M. Gorsuch, President Trump’s pick to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme court, asserted during his confirmation hearings this week that Scalia’s landmark Second Amendment opinion in District of ...

The Washington Post Gives Gun Control Group and U.S. Senator Three Pinocchios on Suppressors

News  

Second Amendment  

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Washington Post Gives Gun Control Group and U.S. Senator Three Pinocchios on Suppressors

Last week, we wrote about Americans for Responsible Solutions’ irresponsible misinformation about The Hearing Protection Act on Twitter.  Apparently, we weren’t the only ones who took notice of ARS’s complete disregard for the facts on ...

Virginia Action Needed: Governor McAuliffe Vetoes Self-Defense Bills

Monday, March 27, 2017

Virginia Action Needed: Governor McAuliffe Vetoes Self-Defense Bills

Following their passage in the Virginia General Assembly, Governor Terry McAuliffe vetoed multiple self-defense bills; Senate Bill 1299, Senate Bill 1300, House Bill 1852, and House Bill 1853. 

News  

Monday, March 27, 2017

NRA Applauds Texas State Senate for Passing SB 16

The National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action applauds the Texas Senate today for passing Senate Bill 16, legislation that substantially reduces License To Carry fees in the Lone Star state.

Texas: Senate Passes SB 16, LTC Fee Reduction Bill, by Overwhelming Vote

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Texas: Senate Passes SB 16, LTC Fee Reduction Bill, by Overwhelming Vote

On Monday, the Texas Senate voted to pass Senate Bill 16, NRA-backed legislation sponsored by State Sen. Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) and Joan Huffman (R-Houston), on a 26-5 vote.

California: One Gun a Month Bill Pulled from Senate Public Safety Hearing

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

California: One Gun a Month Bill Pulled from Senate Public Safety Hearing

Today, Tuesday, March 28, anti-gun SB 497, was scheduled to be heard in the Senate Public Safety Committee.  At the last minute, the bill was pulled from today's agenda. Thank you to all who contacted the ...

California: Anti-Gun Bill Limiting Firearm Purchases to be Heard in Senate Public Safety on Tuesday, March 28

Friday, March 24, 2017

California: Anti-Gun Bill Limiting Firearm Purchases to be Heard in Senate Public Safety on Tuesday, March 28

On Tuesday, March 28, anti-gun SB 497, is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Public Safety Committee.  SB 497 would expand the existing one handgun a month law to include ALL guns.  

More Firearms, More Firearms Owners, Fewer Fatal Accidents

News  

Second Amendment  

Friday, March 24, 2017

More Firearms, More Firearms Owners, Fewer Fatal Accidents

The National Safety Council released the 2017 edition of its annual Injury Facts report this week, and it contains welcome news about firearm safety. 

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.