- Copyright © 2012, The American Academy of Pediatrics
Florida’s attorney general issued a notice of appeal July 30 in response to a recent U.S. District Court ruling that struck down a state law restricting pediatricians’ ability to ask about firearms in the home.
The appeal now will go to the Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit for review.
In a June 29 decision, a federal judge sided with the Academy and other medical groups when she cited the Privacy of Firearms Owners’ Act as unconstitutional.
The judge stated that the firearms law interfered in the patient-physician relationship by limiting practitioners’ ability to counsel patients and their families on the importance of storing firearms safely. The law also harmed patients by imposing restrictions that prevent them from hearing important preventive health messages from their physicians, according to the U.S. District judge’s ruling.
Physicians accused of violating the law would have been sent before the Florida Board of Medicine for disciplinary action.
The Privacy of Firearms Owners’ Act was signed into law June 2, 2011, by Fla. Gov. Rick Scott. On June 6 of that year, the Florida chapters of the Academy, American Academy of Family Physicians and American College of Physicians, along with six individual physicians, filed a lawsuit contending that the law substantially curtailed their First Amendment rights to exchange information with patients about gun safety. It sought a permanent injunction to block implementation of the law.
Gov. Scott had voted to appeal any permanent injunction against the law in September 2011, when a U.S. District judge issued a temporary injunction, despite the fact that the ruling noted such an appeal likely would be unsuccessful.
Although six other states have introduced similar bills in recent years, Florida is the only state that enacted legislation restricting physician speech on firearms safety counseling.
For more information on the Florida lawsuit restricting firearms safety counseling or state legislative action, contact the AAP Division of State Government Affairs at www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/state-advocacy/Documents/Fla%20Gun%20Law%20Summary%20Judgment%20Order.pdf.or 800-433-9016, ext. 7799, or visit
For speaking points to prepare for media interviews on firearms legislation, log in to MyAAP and go to www2.aap.org/moc/pressroom/speaking_points/firearmslegislation.htm.