JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A doctor with the Duval County Medical society says doctors should be allowed to ask patients about using firearms to prevent injury and harm, but the issue has become political.
This comes after a federal appeals court reinstated Florida’s law that prevents doctors from discussing firearms with patients. The law is commonly referred to as the “docs vs. glocks” law.
“It’s about gun safety,” says Dr. Sunil Joshi. “Guns are certainly part of some of the issues with injury and harm, particularly in our society here in Jacksonville.”
Joshi says the issue was politicized when “large gun groups” began voicing concerns that a physician asking a patient about guns “somehow means that guns are bad and you shouldn’t have guns.”
“That has absolutely nothing to do with the issue,” he says.
Joshi says his biggest concern is the government intruding into the patient-physician relationship.
“If you allow the government to get involved in the doctor-patient relationship, where does that end,” Joshi says. “It’s a slippery slope.”
He says doctors only discuss health-related matters with patients.
“And if we’re not going to be allowed to talk about guns, at what point will we not be allowed to talk about cigarettes, alcohol or illegal drugs.”
The two Republican-appointed judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit wrote in their decision to reinstate the law that “the practice of good medicine does not require interrogation about irrelevant, private matters.”
The judges conclude that this speech is “professional in nature” and only has an “incidental” impact on free speech. They believe the law is limited to “harassing” or “unnecessary” speech, so it should not limit doctor comments that are directly related to patient health.