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Eleventh Circuit Upholds Florida's Patient Privacy Law

Posted on NRA-ILA on November 6, 2014

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In a victory for gun owners who simply seek medical care, not political philosophy, from their doctors, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has upheld the NRA-supported Florida’s Firearm Owner’s Privacy Act. This law was passed after an escalating series of events in which patients were harassed or denied access to services because they refused to be interrogated by their doctors about their ownership of firearms. The case, Wollschlaeger v. Governor of Florida, vindicated Florida’s attempt to protect patients from being forced to divulge personal information that is irrelevant to their own medical treatment.

In challenging the law, Dr. Wollschlaeger and the other plaintiffs insisted they had a First Amendment right to routinely grill patients on their choices concerning firearm ownership, without regard to any good faith belief such information was relevant to the patient’s individual case. They also alleged the law’s proscriptions were unconstitutionally vague.

The Court of Appeals rejected these claims.  “The essence of the Act,” the court’s opinion stated, “is simple: medical practitioners should not record information or inquire about patients’ firearm-ownership status when doing so is not necessary to providing the patient with good medical care.” Accordingly, the court determined that “[t]he Act merely circumscribes the unnecessary collection of patient information on one of many potential sensitive topics.”

As the court noted, nothing in the Florida law prohibits doctors from expressing their views about firearms or about any other medical or public policy issue. Rather, the law is within keeping of long-established “codes of conduct that define the practice of good medicine and affirm the responsibility that physicians bear” and “protects a patient’s ability to receive effective medical treatment without compromising the patient’s privacy with regard to matters unrelated to healthcare.”

The NRA participated in the case with a friend of the court brief in the Eleventh Circuit proceedings, and a number of the points it made are echoed in the majority opinion of the court. The brief challenged the plaintiffs’ case on several grounds, arguing that the physicians and organization do not have standing to bring the suit, that the Act does not violate the First Amendment, and that the Act is not unconstitutionally vague.

In arguing against the plaintiffs’ standing, the brief explained that the act does not “chill” the plaintiffs’ speech, as “the Act by its terms simply does not restrict the speech in which [the plaintiffs] wish to engage.” 

While disputing the plaintiffs’ First Amendment claims, the brief noted that the Act is a “reasonable regulation of speech incidental to the practice of medicine.” The NRA filing explained the Act serves the State’s interest in protecting the privacy of patients, as well as the patients’ exercise of Second Amendment rights. In concluding the First Amendment argument, the brief declared, “The Firearm Owners’ Privacy Act is another reasonable regulation of the medical practice. It exhorts doctors to stick to practicing medicine when examining patients, rather than pushing their own political agendas, and it protects patients from doctors who refuse to do so.”


Plaintiffs in the case have requested additional review before a full panel of the Eleventh Circuit, but the court has not yet ruled on the petition for rehearing. In the meantime, however, patients who prefer to focus on their symptoms, and not their doctors’ politics, in the examination room should have more reason to feel at ease.

Source: http://www.nraila.org/legal/articles/2014/eleventh-circuit-upholds-florida-patient-privacy-law.aspx

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Reviews

Naples Gun School - 5 stars Love this place. Dave treated me like a V.I.P. He's a cool guy. He takes time teaching you throughout the course. This is the place to buy firearms, supplies and for class. A++++ Anthony Rojas

Naples Gun School - 5 stars Great class!! There was a lot more hands on instruction than the class that I had in Tennessee. David was knowledgeable and entertaining. Good insights on Florida law. My wife will be taking the class shortly. Thanks David. Kevin 9/15/2018

  I thoroughly enjoyed the concealed weapons class on 8/11/18. The class went beyond my expectations. Dave you are an awesome instructor and made the class fun. I would highly recommend Naples Gun Shopping and School! Thanks for sharing your knowledge! - Teresa Cannon

David is an excellent instructor. The class is excellent and exceeded my expectations with information on the laws of Florida, and as well to carry properly, load the weapons as well as placement of holding weapons. If your looking to buy a weapon he is the man to go to. I personally bought my firearm from. - Carlos Casiano

Naples Gun School - 5 stars  Martha Hohenthaner

Naples Gun School - 5 stars  This was a very good class. I did not have to take it, as I am a Veteran, however it is a good idea. I learned a lot about Florida Law I did not know. It will in the long run help keep you out of trouble. David was very patient with my wife when we live fired, because she has arthritis and had a hard time pulling the trigger in double action mode. Good Job David thanks so much..Joseph Hohenthaner

Naples Gun School - 5 stars  The class was engaging and as fast paced as it can be. The instructor was knowledgeable and worked well with a class spanning all the levels of experience and age you can imagine. I also felt it was fairly priced, especially as you just had to bring yourself and an ID - all other supplies were, er, supplied.Cliff Elam 

Naples Gun School - 5 stars  Naples Gun Shop & School gets an A+ in my book! David and Ginny were great. I took the CWP class today 7/21/18. Both are extremely knowledgeable and easy to talk to. David is one of the best instructors that I have had the pleasure of meeting. I highly recommend Naples Gun Shop & School. Best prices, Great training, and easy to deal with. I will definitely be returning to do further business. Thank you David & Ginny....see you soon!Nicholas Lupo

Naples Gun School - 5 stars  I've been a repeat customer for FFL transfers with Naples Gun School for quite some time. Dave's customer service and knowledge are second to none. After speaking with Dave for a few moments, you start to feel as if you have known him for quite a while. I look forward to continuing my business when the new location opens. - Robert Boyette

I really enjoyed the class yesterday, and it was very nice to meet David and Ginny. David is very knowledgeable, helpful, and best of all: has a sense of humor. I was more nervous than I thought I would be because this was the first time in my life that I've ever shot a semi-automatic weapon. David lives and breathes this stuff and his presence and ease with weapons was very calming for me when I was at the range. Ginny was also very supportive throughout the whole class. Thank you guys so much! It's a pleasure and I will be back to purchase supplies from you! - Shenandoah Webb

Naples Gun School - 5 starsTook the 3/31/18 class and loved it! Dave was very informative and his laid back teaching style made the 4 hour class fly by. Would recommend this class to anyone interested in a CWP. Thanks Dave and Ginny! - Kelly Gardner

Naples Gun School - 5 stars I’d like to thank The Naples Gun School for the time and effort they took in order to help me become a more responsible hand gun owner. By taking your CCWP class on 3.31.2018, I’m honestly a better person today than I was yesterday. Your course is not only interesting, but informative as well. The time we had together flew by. Throughout the whole process, they were calm and patient with every student. Especially after everyone seemed to drop their cartridges on the floor during the revolver training portion of the program. I highly recommend Naples Gun School to anyone that’s interested in becoming a CCWP holder. And I definitely will use their services by purchasing all my gun needs through their establishment. David & Ginny, thank you so much. I had a wonderful time!Chris Shaffer

Naples Gun School - 5 stars This class kept me very interested, informed and didn’t even realize 4 hours went by! Would recommend everyone to take this class! - Douglas Shaffer

Naples Gun School - 5 stars - Lurybella Lora Trejo

 

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