Not all physicians are upset with the Florida law. Timothy W. Wheeler, MD, founder and director of Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership, strongly questions whether doctors should ask about guns in a home. "It's wrong for a doctor to misuse the doctor-patient relationships to try to advocate for gun control in the doctors' office," Wheeler, a retired doctor in California, told HealthLeaders Media. "That's professional misconduct, and that is the reason the Florida law was enacted."
Physicians who specifically need to raise the gun issue do have a reason, however, if there is a "suspicion of mental illness, or homicidal or suicidal" tendencies, he adds.
Wollschlagger, a former military officer in the Israeli army, says he has a concealed weapon permit and enjoys shooting guns on a range. He characterizes America's gun laws as "absolutely insane." The country's laws concerning assault rifles, are "crazy," and, he says, illustrate how important it is for docs to keep on eye on patients and families when it comes to guns in a household.
"There is no rational way to allow an average citizen without any involvement in security or tbe military to carry an assault rifle, it's absolutely insane," Wollschlagger says. " If somebody purchased 6,000 bullets for a high-powered assault rifle, for crying out loud, is he going to war?"
The federal assault weapons ban expired in the fall of 2004, but gun control advocates such as the Brady Campaign have supported banning military style semi-automatic assault weapons along with high capacity ammunition magazines.
While the gun debate accelerates, physicians in Florida will continue to have discussions with patients about guns, Wollschlagger says. "We don't know if the state will continue the battle," Wollschlagger says, referring to possible state appeals of the court ruling.
Already, there are rumblings that the Florida Department of Health will appeal the court's ruling. Florida is the only state that has enacted legislation restricting physician speech on firearms safety counseling, but Alabama, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee and West Virginia have introduced similar bills in recent years.