Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Kriseman files bill to repeal "Docs vs. Glocks" legislation

Posted by on Tue, Sep 13, 2011 at 1:10 PM

Dr. Mona Mongat & Rick Kriseman spoke at All Childrens Hospital in St. Pete
  • Dr. Mona Mongat & Rick Kriseman spoke at All Children's Hospital in St. Pete
St. Petersburg physician Dr. Mona Mangat admits that she wasn't really paying attention this past spring when the Florida Legislature was debating what became known as the "Docs vs. Glocks" bill, the controversial piece of legislation championed by the National Rifle Association that prohibits pediatricians from asking any questions about gun use or ownership unless it is relevant to their patients' care or safety.

But she says once she did become aware, she was outraged, and wonders what the Legislature might contemplate next when it comes to intervening between a doctor and his or her patient.

"Will it be okay for the legislature or the governor to make it illegal to ask parents of asthmatic children if they smoke? Would it be okay with them if we ask patients with sexually transmitted diseases about their sexual habits or if they use protection? Is it still going to be okay to ask patients if they drink alcohol or use intravenous drugs? Are the proponents of this law trying to practice medicine without a license? I think so."

Mangat spoke out Tuesday morning at a news conference held at All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, where state Representative Rick Kriseman announced his co-sponsorship of a bill that would repeal the law next year.

The St. Petersburg Democrat said he was supportive of the Second Amendment rights of his constituents and all Floridians, but calls the bill not only unnecessary, but "silly," adding that if parents didn't want a pediatrician to ask if there are guns in the home, they were under no obligation to have to answer the question.

Kriseman called his Republican colleagues who supported the bill in the legislature last year "hypocritical," declaring such a law is antithetical to tradition conservative concerns about excessive government regulations and government involvement in health care.

There is pending litigation against the bill filed back in June by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. The Washington D.C. based gun control organization claims the law violates First Amendment rights for doctors.

Being in the (vastly) minority party in Tallahassee, Krisman says he knows the chances of the bill even being heard in a committee are dubious, but when questioned whether he believes there are Republicans who support such a repeal, said there are on occasions bills that fly through the legislature each session that lawmakers want to reconsider, and mentioned state laws regarding red-light cameras as an example.

Though it didn't happen, there was strong support in some circles of the state capital this spring to craft a law that would ban such cameras.

"I would love to see this be heard and I would love to see people vote their conscience, not what leadership tells them they should do," Kriseman said.

The law says doctors and other health care practitioners “shall respect a patient’s right to privacy and should refrain” from asking about gun ownership or whether people have guns in their homes.

It also, however, says health providers may ask about guns if they believe in “good faith” that the information is relevant to a patient’s medical care or safety.

Dr. Mongat, who is the regional director for the progressive group Doctors for America, says though she's sure they're out there, she has yet to meet a single doctor who thinks the legislation is worthy, and says it is very much a health care issue.

"To criminalize the free speech between the doctor and the patient protected by the honor and the oath of our profession and, more importantly, by the First amendment of the U.S Constitution, is wrong," she says flatly.

Krisman is co-sponsoring his repeal of the bill in the House with fellow St. Pete Democrat Daryl Rouson. Miami Democratic state Senator Oscar Braynon II is doing the same in the Legislature's upper body.

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