The National Rifle Association's top lobbyist in Florida says the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals "treats gun owners as second-class citizens" after the court decided to strike down
a state law that prohibited doctors from asking their patients about gun ownership.
In a 8-3 decision, judges found that the Firearm Owners’ Privacy Act, also known as the "Docs vs. Glocks
" law, violated medical professionals' right to free speech. The law threatened physicians with severe penalties for asking their patients direct questions about guns in their homes, which lawmakers argued was a violation of privacy. Florida doctors thought the law hampered their ability to help suicidal patients and keep children safe by educating their parents on gun safety. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Protection found in 2013 that firearms accounted for 33,636 deaths in the United States, with the majority of those deaths being suicides.
reports that Marion Hammer, an NRA lobbyist and gun-rights activist, sent out an email after the ruling, saying, "The Legislature has every right to regulate any profession to protect the public from discrimination and abuse. Doctors are businessmen, not gods. … This court treats gun owners as second-class citizens."
Hammer, who told Orlando Weekly
last year that a patient's gun ownership was irrelevant to that patient's health and no one's business, writes that this ruling is not the final word on the issue.
"This activist decision attempts to use the First Amendment as a sword to terrorize the Second Amendment and completely disregards the rights and the will of the elected representatives of the people of Florida," she says. "The state of Florida has both legislative and appellate options to reinstate these important protections."
On the other end, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence
says the ruling was an important victory for public safety and free speech.
"The gun lobby and its lap dogs don't want Americans to know the truth about the danger of guns in the home because it will hurt their bottom line," says Dan Gross, president of the organization, in a statement. "The fact is, guns are far more likely to kill a child or family member than protect them. We are pleased the Court recognized Americans have a constitutional right to hear the truth about guns, and the gun lobby has no right to silence doctors or keep patients in the dark. We will continue to work with the medical community to get the truth out, to protect American children and families from the scourge of gun violence."