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Florida gun rights issue may become Nevada issue

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Despite the fact that most of the political news and commentary I write about is specific to Las Vegas and Nevada; no state is an island unto itself (except maybe Hawaii). So when I hear about something that I think is pertinent to our state, or may become so, I address it. Such was the case with the ethnic studies program in Tucson Unified School District, and with the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Law.

Yet another issue, this one from Florida, has crossed my desk and I believe it needs addressing. The issue is related to gun rights and the first amendment, and although not currently an issue here, troubles travel.

Apparently a freshman Representative in the Florida House, Jason Brodeur ( R), introduced a bill that many call the “doctor gag” bill, which limits what medical professionals can ask patients. Specifically, concern seems to be that the bill, now passed, denies doctors' their first amendment rights by stopping them from asking whether or not patients own firearms. As it has been portrayed over the internet, the bill pits the second amendment against the first amendment. Bloggers and bias media types call the bill stupid; stating the state has no business getting involved in doctor-patient privileged conversations.

One headline states, “Stupid Ass Doctor Gun Gag Bill Passes Florida House.” An online article from the June 6 Orlando Sentinel reports that the lawsuit filed to block the bill, which was signed into law by Gov. Rick Perry, was filed by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and a “well-heeled coalition of Florida doctors.” Therein lays the crux of the problem.

You see, HB155 requires that doctors, emergency medical personnel and other health-care providers refrain from asking about gun ownership unless they “in good faith [believe] that this information is relevant to the patient’s medical care or safety, or the safety of others.” It’s not really a gag order to stifle the first amendment rights of doctors but to stop Brady Center koolaid drinkers from harassing patients about gun ownership. The term “well-heeled” by the way, means wealthy or well provided for. I would imagine the doctors who have been violating the physician-patient trust have been well provided for by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

This writer contacted Rep. Jason Brodeur ( R) to find out his side of the story; something not found in most of the coverage online. Brodeur was quick to respond to query despite being approached by a writer 3000 miles away.

Brodeur replied, “My gun bill was a response to nearly a decade old abuse of denying law abiding citizens the chance to see a doctor because they chose to exercise their Constitutional right. Gun ownership by law abiding citizens is a civil right in this country. Denying people care based on their exercise of a civil right is pure discrimination and shouldn't be tolerated.” According to Brodeur, the abuse of power is a decade old and is rooted back to the physicians and how they’ve treated their patients.

“The bill as passed by the House and Senate with over a dozen Democrats voting for it says that any doctor can ask the question about gun ownership and write down the answer if they believe in good faith that it has something to do with the treatment and care of the individual. And the bill doesn't at all prohibit a safety conversation by the physician. They just can't ask direct questions and write down in charts or on forms if it has nothing to do with the care being sought,” affirmed Brodeur.

Perhaps you can’t imagine the audacity of a doctor refusing care because of gun ownership, but it has been an on-going problem in Florida. As a mental health counselor, working in a psychiatric hospital, I regularly encountered the core belief that firearms are evil, and we were taught so in training. In one such training, led by a Psychologist, the training group was asked if anyone attending belonged to the National Rifle Association. After raising my hand affirmatively, I was verbally harassed as being part of the problem in this country.

In his response, Brodeur continued, “There are several examples all over the state where physicians were telling people that Medicaid required the question be answered (and) then putting the information in a computer. A young mother on Medicaid doesn't know if this information is going to DCF (Department of Children & Families) and if they will somehow investigate her, or worse; take her child. Further, in rural communities, there may not be another pediatrician or provider for 50 miles. The penalty now is simply referral to the Board of Medicine. There are no criminal penalties. There are no civil penalties."

In discussing the final bill, Brodeur, who has been accused of attempting to make a name for himself with this bill, stated that the bill addresses the privacy concerns of all individuals without compromising medical care. He also added that the final bill has been endorsed by the Florida Medical Association.

This seemed a worthy topic for my opinion-editorial because our second amendment right to keep and bear arms continues to be under siege by our current president, his administration, and Brady koolaid drinkers in every state. Take for instance Nevada’s own SB231, the Campus Protection bill; which had bipartisan support in the Senate and House, yet was killed anyway. It was killed because of bullying and posturing by anti-gunners who believe the constitution is up for interpretation, and who believe they know better than the rest of us.

It is just a matter of time before tactics, like the one used by doctors well-heeled by the Brady Center in Florida, find their way here to Nevada. No one questions a doctor’s responsibility to do a risk assessment if required. But so many other items in the home pose greater risk on a daily basis than guns; cars, cleaning chemicals, tools, swimming pools…. It is clearly an ethical violation for doctors to ask only about guns and to refuse care because of gun ownership.

To quote the great commentator Paul Harvey, “And now you know the rest of the story.”

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