Hammer says Florida pediatricians are following an anti-gun agenda laid down by the American Academy of Pediatrics, and pushed by groups like the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, which is assisting the plaintiffs in the suit.
"The American Academy of Pediatrics had on their web site for years that they support banning guns and they encouraged pediatricians to ask families if they own guns, and if they do to tell them to get rid of their guns, and if they don't to tell them not to buy guns," Hammer says. "That is not medicine and that is not appropriate and that is what the law is designed to stop."
If physicians are concerned about public safety issues, Hammer says, they should concentrate on the preventable medical errors that The Institute of Medicine has estimated kill more than 100,000 people each year. "If they want to save lives they need to clean up their own act before they go after gun owners," Hammer says.
Cosgrove says there is no way to make the law palatable for primary care physicians. "From our standpoint as the pediatric society, we said there doesn't need to be a law or anything that regulates the physician-patient relationship and nothing that interferes with what we say to our patients."
"To have a law that gags us, you start with guns, and where do you end up," she says. "Next time do you tell me I can't talk to my patients about their sexual activity, or their drug use. Where does it stop?"