Florida Lawmakers Prioritize Loose Gun Laws Over First Amendment Rights

It seems that now the Second Amendment trumps the First Amendment. At least with respect to Pediatricians in Florida:

 

A pending law in Florida would make it illegal for pediatricians to ask families whether guns are being safely kept in their patients' homes. Supporters of the NRA-backed measure insist that questions by doctors and other health care professionals amount to an invasion of privacy and a violation of their Second Amendment rights.

Pediatricians routinely ask parents about safety concerns in the home like whether or not the family has a pool, if the child wears a bike helmet, or rides in a car seat. To gun advocates, however, questions about the presence of firearms in a child's environment are intrusive and go too far. [...]

Pediatrician Dr. Louis St. Petery says that questions about safety are part of what physicians call "anticipatory guidance". Doctors routinely assess the safety environment of patients and parents in order to more accurately advise them on how to avoid accidents and injuries.

The bill has been ratified by both houses of the Florida state Legislature and awaits the signature of Governor Rick Scott.

You know why this is a stupid law? Because parents are under no obligation to answer their pediatrician's questions about whether they are keeping their guns safe at home. No one's "Second Amendment Rights" have been violated when a doctor asks a question that would relate to advice he or she could give the parents regarding making their home safer for their children. The pediatricians aren't members of the government and no one is obligated to answer their question about anything, regardless of whether it would be stupid not to. If you, as a Florida resident don't want to answer a question from your doctor, no one can make you.

However, it seems that this bill the NRA is pushing in Florida, which would prohibit pediatricians from asking these questions would directly violate the First Amendment rights of pediatricians to ask question relevant to the health and safety of their patients. The doctor patient relationship has always been held to be sacred and privileged. If this law passes however, the First Amendment rights of doctors to ask pertinent questions regarding the safety of their patients will be impinged upon by the State of Florida. Here's the text of both amendments:

 

First Amendment – Establishment Clause, Free Exercise Clause; freedom of speech, of the press, and of assembly; right to petition

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Second Amendment – Militia (United States), Sovereign state, Right to keep and bear arms.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. [

Do you see anything in either amendment that says a government can censor what you say because of the right to bear arms in the 2nd Amendment? I sure don't. You would have to have a very, very active imagination to even find an implied grant of authority to any government, state, federal or local in the 2nd amendment that permits that governmental authority to censor the free speech rights protected by the 1st Amendment.

I fail to see how parents being asked questions by pediatricians regarding whether they keep their guns safe at home violates any Constitutional right guaranteed under the Second amendment--period. There is simply no state action involved when a physician asks that question.

However, the proposed law does directly violate the rights of the physicians. I hope the ACLU takes the State of Florida to court over this if and when the Governor signs this bill into law.

The Second Amendment simply doesn't allow the States to violate the First Amendment rights of their citizens. It is not a "Super Right" that trumps all of the other protection guaranteed by the Constitution.

All the Second Amendment does is prohibit government action, not individual action. If this law is upheld, it means that your right of free speech under the 1st amendment is subject to censorship, at least when the issue at hand is guns, and that would be a very, very bad precedent to set for our nation.

The greatest liberty we have is the freedom to say what is on our minds. When a government can censor individual speech just because a certain group may find that speech uncomfortable to hear or feel it is too "intrusive" (even though it is uttered in the privacy of a doctor's office) what speech can they not prohibit?

Booman Tribune / By Steven D

Posted at May 9, 2011, 5:20am

Sign Up!
Get AlterNet's Daily Newsletter in Your Inbox
+ sign up for additional lists
[x]
Select additional lists by selecting the checkboxes below before clicking Subscribe:
Activism
Drugs
Economy
Education
Environment
Food
Media
World
Today's Top Stories