FL Gag rule, Wollschlaeger v. Scott

Case Status: Closed
Florida · June 6, 2011

In 2011, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a bill making Florida the first state in which it was illegal for any physician to “ask questions concerning the ownership of a firearm” or “harass...a patient about firearm ownership during an examination.” The stated purpose of the law was to protect patient “privacy.” Under the law, doctors could be censored, fined, or penalized through the loss of their license to practice if the Florida Board of Medicine found they violated the law.

The fight over “Docs vs. Glocks” started when a pediatrician in Ocala asked the mother of a young child whether she kept guns in the home. She refused to answer, saying, “whether I have a gun has nothing to do with the health of my child.” But, as Brady stated in our suit, 65 children and teenagers are shot every day in America, and eight of them die; one-third of American homes with children under 18 have a firearm in them; and more than 40% of those households store their guns unlocked, with a quarter of those homes storing them loaded. So, guns do have something to do with the health of America’s children.

Pediatricians are trained (and explicitly advised by the American Academy of Pediatrics) to question parents about the presence of open containers of bleach, swimming pools, and balloons. It’s part of their job to educate parents about potentially lethal dangers around the home. Why, then, is an inquiry into firearms the threat to personal privacy?

Representing a number of Florida doctors, Brady and pro bono partner law firm Ropes & Gray brought suit to challenge the law under the First Amendment. We argued that, under the First Amendment, doctors should have the right to give their best advice to patients when it comes to safety. This individual right is especially important in this context, as it ensures the safety of individuals, families, and communities in Florida.

The case resulted in a landmark decision by the Eleventh Circuit striking down the law as unconstitutional. Even more, Florida was forced to pay over one million dollars in attorneys’ fees because the law was found to violate constitutional rights. This decision and award was a message to states to think twice before enacting or defending laws that put lives -- especially children’s lives -- at risk just to boost the gun lobby

Back to Resources
Related Legal Cases

Englund v. J&G Sales & World Pawn Exchange

Landmark Victory Reforming the Online Gun Industry

Brady Center v. ATF - FOIA Lawsuits

Victory Exposing ATF and Gun Industry

Delana v. Odessa Gun & Pawn

Victory in Missouri Supreme Court, Gun Dealer Liable for Sale of Murder Weapon

Mata v. Pioneer Pawn

Victory in Reforming Texas Gun Dealer

Shirley v. Glass

Victory in Kansas Supreme Court, Gun Dealer Liable for Sale of Murder Weapon

Johnson v. Bull's Eye

Victory in Holding Gun Sellers Accountable to Victims and Families in DC Sniper Case

Wortham v. Ed's Pawn Shop

Victory on Behalf of Family of Chicago Police Officer Murdered After Straw Purchase

Jefferson v. Sauers

Victory in Philadelphia, Holding Gun Dealer Accountable and Settlement for Mother Whose Son Was Killed with Trafficked Gun

Allen v. Lock N Load

Victory in Reforming Florida Gun Dealer After Murder From Straw Purchase

McGuire and Lemongello v. Will's

Victory in Holding Gun Dealer Accountable and Landmark Settlement for Police Officers Shot with Trafficked Gun

Williams v. Beemiller

Victory in New York Appeals Court Against Gun Trafficking

City of Gary v. Smith & Wesson

Victory in Indiana Supreme Court Holding Gun Industry Accountable for Negligent Sales

Daniel v. Armslist

Victory in Wisconsin Appeals Court Against Internet Gun Market

Prescott et al v. Slide Fire Solutions

Fighting Against Bump Stocks for Victims of the Las Vegas music shooting

Fox v. In Site Firearms

Fighting for a Police Officer Killed in Philadelphia With A Weapon From a Straw Sale

Runnels v. KS&E Sports

Fighting for a Police Officer Injured in Indiana With A Weapon From a Straw Sale

Luke v. A Pawn Shop

Global $2 Million Settlement with Gun Dealer that Conducted Deadly Straw Purchase