For the second time in little more than a year, a federal appeals court Tuesday upheld a controversial Florida law that restricts doctors from asking questions and recording information about patients’ gun ownership.
The 2-1 decision by a panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was a victory for the National Rifle Association and other gun-rights advocates and a defeat for medical groups that argued, at least in part, that the law infringed on doctors’ First Amendment rights.
The appeals court last July also upheld the 2011 law but issued a revised ruling Tuesday. After last year’s decision, medical groups continued challenging the law, including asking for a rehearing before the entire Atlanta-based appeals court.
Dubbed the “docs vs. Glocks” law, the measure includes a series of restrictions on doctors and other health providers. As an example, it seeks to prevent physicians from entering information about gun ownership into medical records if the physicians know the information is not “relevant” to patients’ medical care or safety or to the safety of other people.
As another example, the law says doctors should refrain from asking about gun ownership by patients or family members unless the doctors believe in “good faith” that the information is relevant to medical care or safety. Also, the law seeks to prevent doctors from discriminating against patients or “harassing” them because of owning firearms.
A federal district judge in 2012 sided with opponents of the law and issued an injunction against it. But the appeals court last July and again Tuesday overturned the injunction.