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Opponents Take Aim At 'Docs V. Glocks' Law

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Doctors and physician groups filed an 86-page brief this week asking a federal appeals court to reject a controversial Florida law that would restrict doctors from asking questions and recording information about patients' gun ownership.

The brief came as the full 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals prepares to hear arguments June 21 about what has become known as the "docs v. glocks" law.

The state filed a brief last month urging the court to uphold the law. The plaintiffs' brief filed Monday argued, in part, that the 2011 law violates the First Amendment rights of physicians to discuss safety-related issues with patients.

"In (the law), the Florida Legislature does what no legislative body has done before or since; it prevents doctors from providing patients with truthful advice to keep their families healthy and safe --- speech that is recommended as standard protocol by national medical associations,'' the plaintiffs' brief said. "If (the law) is allowed to stand, it sets precedent for states, at the bidding of other industries or special interests, to prevent doctors from speaking to patients about risks posed by other dangerous products or activities. The First Amendment does not allow the state to single out and censor one topic (firearms), or one group (doctors, or patients), or to so interfere with the doctor-patient relationship."

The full appeals court agreed in February to take up the case, after a three-judge panel issued three rulings upholding the constitutionality of the law.

The law, backed by groups such as the National Rifle Association, 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.

The NRA filed a friend-of-the-court brief last week that said it championed the law after members were asked intrusive questions about gun ownership during visits to doctors' offices. The NRA brief described the law as "a modest regulation of the medical profession that does not infringe upon First Amendment rights."

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