MIAMI-DADE — A Federal Court of Appeals ruled against a recent Florida law that forbid doctors from discussing gun safety with patients. The ruling claims that restricting a doctor’s ability to speak with a patient would be a violation of his or her First Amendment Rights.
via CBS News
“The Second Amendment right to own and possess firearms does not preclude questions about, commentary on, or criticism for the exercise of that right,” wrote Circuit Judge Adalberto Jordan in one of two majority opinions covering 90 pages. “There is no actual conflict between the First Amendment rights of doctors and medical professionals and the Second Amendment rights of patients.”
This opinion was echoed by Circuit Judge William Pryor in a separately published opinion on the ruling.
“The promise of free speech is that even when one holds an unpopular point of view, the state cannot stifle it,” he wrote. “The price Americans pay for this freedom is that the rule remains unchanged regardless of who is in the majority.”
Any law that suppresses speech is as dangerous as any law that suppresses the ownership of firearms. Both can be used in and out-of-context to restrict the liberties of American citizens.
There ought not be any law stopping a medical professional from discussing firearms with a patient. One of the alarming things I’ve seen is the reports of General Practitioners and allied medical professionals asking patients if they own firearms — regardless of whether or not it has anything to do with the actual examination.
To what purpose does that question serve as a general assessment of an individual’s health?
Now, there is no need to prohibit asking such a question. That’s ridiculous and arguably a violation of an individual’s right to free speech. There is also no necessity to answer the question.
If I was to walk into the office of my General Practitioner and he asked if I owned firearms, I could simply not respond. I could say, “I decline to answer the question.”
There’s nothing stopping me from doing so. There’s nothing stopping anyone from declining to answer that line of questioning. If I ever enter into a state where I feel the presence of firearms may be detrimental to my health, I will take the appropriate steps to fix that. Up until that point, my medical well-being has precisely nothing to do with my possession of firearms.
That said, crafting laws intended to restrict basic liberties such as free speech or the possession of firearms is a huge step over the boundaries of what are considered inalienable liberties. We already have enough laws restricting possession, transfer, and ownership of firearms — and plenty that restrict how we communicate and broadcast information. Why add any more if we can help it?