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Florida physicians can talk gun safety with patients; Court overturns 2011 law: 7 highlights

Florida providers now have the authority to discuss gun safety with their patients after a federal appeals court ruled to overturn a 2011 law preventing physicians from engaging in such conversations, according to the New York Times.

Here are seven highlights:

1. Florida was the first state that tried to bypass medical providers' First Amendment right to talk about gun safety with patients through legislative measures, NYT reports.

2. Medical professionals made their case for these conversations as they said gun safety is integral to public health. The public needs education about firearm safety due to suicide rates and gun-related deaths of children.

3. Those opposing eliminating the bill said they viewed the conversation as an invasion of privacy. The National Rifle Association argued the medical community's stance on asking gun-related questions was a form of discrimination and harassment.

4. The court ruled officials cannot threaten to revoke a physician's license for talking to patients about gun safety as this practice violates their freedom of speech. The court reached this decision in a 10-to-one ruling.

5. The court maintained a provision in the previous legislation, which states providers cannot deny medical services to patients who own guns.

6. In the ruling, the judges wrote, "The first problem is that there was no evidence whatsoever before the Florida Legislature that any doctors or medical professionals have taken away patients' firearms or otherwise infringed on patients' Second Amendment rights."

7. The American Medical Association strongly supported the court's decision to overturn the legislation. In a statement, AMA President Andrew Gurman, MD, stated,  "Open communication between patients and physicians is essential to medical care and must be protected from legislative gag orders. The court ruling is a clear victory against censorship of private medical discussions between patients and physicians. The State of Florida cannot ignore constitutional rights by limiting the free speech necessary for the practice of medicine."

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