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Judge strikes down law barring doctors from gun talk

2:54 PM, Jul 3, 2012   |    comments
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Tallahassee, Florida - Pediatricians are praising a federal judge's ruling against a state law that tried to ban doctors from asking patients if they had a gun in the home.

State lawmakers passed the so-called Firearm Owners Protection Act last year, calling it an effort to protect the privacy of gun owners.

But doctors sued, saying the law interfered with the doctor-patient relationship and violated their First Amendment right of free speech.

The judge blocked enforcement of the law.

Dr. Paul Robinson says pediatricians should be able to talk with parents about a whole range of safety issues, including swimming pools, fire, chemicals and guns.

Robinson says those conversations are critical because the number one cause of death among children is accidents.

"So we have to do things that keep our children safe and it's pediatricians' jobs and family physicians' jobs and all primary care providers' jobs to help us help parents do that."  

Robinson says even though the law allowed doctors to offer information about gun safety, the measure had a chilling effect on those conversations with parents.

"I think many pediatricians were very afraid to even say anything about guns because they were afraid they might be charged under this law. Even though the people who did the law said it was OK just to give information, I think many pediatricians were afraid to even do that."

The law was challenged by the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Brady Center in Washington, D.C.

The Brady Center reports eight children die from guns every day.

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