Constitutional Law

ABA urges 11th Circuit to reconsider ban on gun-safety counseling by physicians

  • Print.

The American Bar Association is participating in an effort to win en banc review of a federal appeals court decision last month. It upheld a Florida law restricting physicians from asking patients about firearms or putting such information in medical records, unless it is relevant to that individual’s medicare care.

In an amicus brief (PDF) filed Friday in the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the ABA joins with physicians and medical groups in asking that the full appeals court review a three-judge panel’s decision in Wollschlaeger, et al. v. Governor of the State of Florida.

At issue is Florida’s Firearm Owners’ Privacy Act, which says physicians can’t ask patients questions about guns they may keep in their homes or disclose a patient’s gun ownership in medical records. Doctors challenging the law say it unconstitutionally curtails free speech rights.

However, the majority held (PDF) last month that the state can ban such firearms discussions, under its power to regulate professional conduct and health care, explains law professor Eugene Volokh in a Volokh Conspiracy blog post published by the Washington Post (reg. req.).

Last year, the ABA also filed an amicus brief in the case, after the 11th Circuit upheld the law in an earlier 2-1 opinion. However, that opinion subsequently was vacated by the court and a new 2-1 opinion in the case was issued last month.

An ABA press release provides further details about the current ABA amicus brief.

Another ABA press release provides additional details about last year’s ABA amicus brief.

Related coverage: “11th Circuit upholds ‘Docs v. Glocks’ law in First Amendment challenge”

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.