In the first few years of a child’s life, a pediatrician will ask parents a series of questions about household safety: Do you have a pool? Where do you keep cleaning supplies? Do you smoke? Do you have pets? What is the temperature setting on your water heater? Do you own a gun? Such inquiries appropriately explore patient safety at home.
Only the last question provoked the ire of pro-gun legislators, activists and legal scholars, creating a legal showdown between the First and Second Amendments in the Eleventh Circuit, stemming from Florida’s Privacy of Firearms Owner’s Act. As the current Congress and executive administration act to repeal gun control measures, including the repeal of restrictions barring certain mentally ill individuals from owning guns, the roles of the physician as health care provider and mandatory reporter of abuse and neglect rely unconditionally on the physician’s First Amendment rights.
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