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A federal appeals court has thrown out a lower court's ruling that a law restricting doctors from discussing gun ownership with patients is constitutional.

It's the latest chapter in what has been dubbed the "glocks vs. docs" case. The new ruling means, for now, the law, passed in 2011 by by Fla. Governor Rick Scott, cannot be enforced, the Miami Herald reported.

The law states that health-care providers must refrain from asking patients or their family members about gun ownership unless the physicians believe in "good faith" that the information is "relevant" to medical care or safety. It also seeks to prevent "discrimination" and "harassment" against gun-owning patients.

It grew out of an incident in Ocala, in Central Florida, that saw a couple complain that a doctor had asked them about guns, which they refused to answer. The physician then decided he would not see them anymore.

The law was immediately challenged by a group of physicians, who subsequently received an opinion in their favor from a U.S. District Judge who said it "failed to provide any standards for practitioners to follow."


That ruling was itself immediately challenged by the Scott administration, and it became the subject of multiple opinions before Wednesday, when the 11-member 11th Circuit Court of Appeals said the most recent relevant ruling should not stand.

In their filing with the appeals court, the doctor's group said, "That some patients find inquiries about gun ownership ‘intrusive’ or believe that gun ownership is a ‘sensitive’ topic does not give the state license to shut down entirely those inquiries, which are at the very heart of many doctors’ everyday conversations with patients.”

The appeals court did not make an evaluation of the law in its statement.

“Finally, a federal [appeals] court will have an opportunity to end the nonsense that doctors talking about gun safety somehow threatens the right to own a gun," Florida ACLU director Howard Simon told the Herald. The ACLU is joining the doctors group as plaintiffs in the case.


Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.