Federal court rules doctors can spy on gun owners. You won’t believe who ruled with them.

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Photo: Randall Goya/Flickr (cc by-sa 2.0)
Photo: Randall Goya/Flickr (cc by-sa 2.0)

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals court has struck down a Florida law banning doctors from asking patients to disclose whether they are gun owners:

The court felt the Firearm Owners’ Privacy Act, signed into law by Republican Gov. Rick Scott in 2011 after passage by the state legislature, placed health care providers at a dangerous crossroads that in the end had a chilling effect on how they could talk to their patients.

“Doctors can choose silence and self-censorship, thereby shouldering the burden of knowing they could have said more, counseled more, and warned more before a tragic accident,” says Judge Stanley Marcus in one of two majority opinions. “Or they may proceed with their speech and potentially face punishment according to the arbitrary whims of annoyed patients or a Board of Medicine that is wholly unrestrained by clear statutory guidelines.”

With only one judge, Gerald B. Tjoflat, appointed to the bench by President Nixon, dissenting with the majority, the only aspect of Florida’s law that remained intact was the tenet that doctors cannot specifically discriminate against or drop patients due to their feelings on gun rights.

The dismantling of this law means that gun owners could find themselves secretly placed on the National Instant Check System gun ban list if they have an anti-gun doctor willing to claim they are a threat.

Making matters worse, one of the judges who overturned the Firearms Owners Protection Act is William Pryor, one of Donald Trump’s top two choices for the Supreme Court and the most likely nominee should another seat open. Pryor wrote separately in the ruling:

“Florida can protect its citizens from discrimination on the basis of their exercise of their right to bear arms,” says Pryor. “But the profound importance of the Second Amendment does not give the government license to violate the right to free speech under the First Amendment.”

Threatening Americans’ gun rights has effectively ousted politicians from office time and time again. Could this ruling destroy Pryor’s chances for a Supreme Court seat?