FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 28, 2014 Jennifer Fuson 202-370-8128 jfuson [at] bradymail [dot] org
Washington, D.C. – Florida doctors represented by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and the Ropes & Gray law firm will appeal a 2-1 decision by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that ruled forbidding doctors from talking to their patients about guns was constitutional. The doctors will seek an en banc review from the full 11th Circuit.
Wollschlaeger v. Scott, commonly known as Docs v. Glocks, is a challenge to a 2011 Florida law that restricts doctors from advising patients about the risks of guns. Organizations representing 11,000 state health providers, including the Florida chapters of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians, had challenged the law as violating doctors’ and patients’ First Amendment right to free speech. Lawyers with Ropes & Gray, the Brady Center and Astigarraga Davis brought the lawsuit and are representing the doctors.
“If the appellate court’s decision is allowed to stand, the corporate gun lobby and its political cronies will be given license to silence the medical community from speaking the truth to patients about the real risks of guns in the home, and any powerful industry will be able to dictate whether families get complete, honest information about the dangers posed by its products,” said Jonathan Lowy, Director, Legal Action Project, Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
“Florida’s gag rule will place our children at risk. The First Amendment does not allow the gun lobby to decide what doctors can tell patients. We are seeking review of this unjust decision by the entire court, and we hope and fully expect that it will be reversed,” added Lowy.
In a lengthy dissent, U.S. Circuit Judge Charles Wilson agreed that the law was an infringement on the First Amendment rights of doctors. “The act prohibits or significantly chills doctors from expressing their views and providing information to patients about one topic, and one topic only, firearms. Regardless of whether we agreed with the message conveyed by doctors to patients about firearms, I think it is perfectly clear that doctors have a First Amendment right to convey that message,” reads Wilson’s dissent.
View the ruling issued July 25 here.
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