Doctors Who Ask Patients Whether They Own Guns Would Face Up to $100,000 in Fines Under Proposed Law

Being a doctor in Florida these days is risky business, and pill mill doctors aren't the only ones who should be worried about being on the wrong side of the law. A proposal being debated in Tallahassee would slap big-time fines on any doctor who asks a patient whether he owns a gun.

A state Senate committee gave the go-ahead Tuesday to Senate Bill No. 432, a National Rifle Association-backed bill that would bar Florida doctors from asking

their patients about gun ownership. The bill now needs approval by the gun-friendly, GOP-controlled Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott, an unabashed firearms advocate.

The proposed bill initially slammed offending physicians with a felony charge and up to $5 million in fines, but an amended version includes a three-tier fine system. Doctors found guilty of asking patients about guns would have to fork over $10,000 for a first offense, at least $25,000 for a second, and $100,000 for a third.

The bill stems in part from an incident in Ocala when a physician told a mother of three that he would no longer treat her children after she refused to answer whether she had a gun in her home.

Supporters say it's also needed as a reaction to American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines suggesting that doctors ask parents of children whether they've stored guns safely. And if there's one thing the NRA hates, it's a doctor-patient discussion about how to store guns safely.

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