A concise review/commentary (WE Parmet et al. NEJM 2016; 374: 2304-7) of Wollschlaeger v Governor of Florida explains how attempts to support the gun lobby are likely imposing unconstitutional limits on the free speech of physicians as well as undermining good health policy.
This law “prohibits physicians from intentionally entering into a patient’s record information about firearm ownership that ‘is not relevant to the patient’s medical care or safety, or the safety of others’; prohibits physicians from asking patients (or for minors, patients’ parents) about firearm ownership unless they believe ‘in good faith’ that ‘information is relevant to patient’s medical care or safety.'”
There are good reasons for physicians to inquire about guns in the homes as there is definitive evidence that a gun in the home increases the risk of death, especially by suicide. The odds, on average from studies, is a 3-fold risk in homes with guns, but even higher for children and adolescents.
The law is counter productive as well. “Studies to date, as limited as they are, suggest that gun owners so counseled are more likely to change storage practices than to remove guns from their homes.”
While the politics with firearms is heavily influenced by well-funded lobbyists, there are other areas in which there are laws regulating physician speech, including abortion and fracking.
My take: I think it is outrageous that there are laws curtailing a physician’s free speech and efforts to dictate practice based on political philosophy. I hope they will not be upheld.
Related blog post: Can the FDA prohibit free speech? | gutsandgrowth