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Florida Bill Would Prohibit Doctors From Asking Patients About Their Guns

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FILE: Florida Gov. Rick Scott announces his new budget during a Tea Party event in Eustis, Fla., on Feb. 7. (AP)

With a stroke of the governor's pen, Florida is positioned to become the first state in the nation to prohibit physicians from asking patients if they have guns in their homes, a move some doctors say will interfere with health care.

The Florida Senate passed House Bill 155 last month by a 27-10 vote and the measure now awaits the signature of Republican Gov. Rick Scott. If signed, it would ban doctors from asking about the presence of guns or ammunition in the home.

Republican State Rep. Jason Brodeur, a sponsor of the bill, proposed the legislation following an incident in which a Florida pediatrician told a mother to find another doctor when she refused to answer questions about guns in her home.

Supporters of the legislation, including the National Rifle Association, say they're seeking to stop doctors from invading their privacy. Critics of the bill, however, claim that doctors need to ask patients about guns to ensure their safety and to make sure they remain out of the reach of children.

"The [bill], if enacted, would limit pediatricians’ capacity to do what they do best -- compassionately and effectively care for children," read a March 30 statement released by The American Academy of Pediatrics. "Because unintentional injuries continue to be the leading cause of death in children older than 1 year, pediatricians play a key role in injury prevention by providing anticipatory guidance to parents during office visits to help minimize the risk of injury in the child’s everyday environment."

Marion Hammer, former president of the NRA, said passage of the bill "sends a message" that the privacy of patients and whether they are gun owners has nothing to do with medical care.

"The bill sends a message that the privacy rights of patients have absolutely nothing to do with medical care and is not within the purview of any doctor," she told FoxNews.com. "If it's a safety issue, there's nothing in the law to prohibit them from disseminating that information."

Hammer, who was referring to the bill's good-faith exception for concerns about the safety of the patient or others, said the measure passed easily because pediatricians "brought their gun politics into examination rooms."

"Pediatricians should not ask anybody about gun ownership," she said. "It has nothing to do with treatment and medical care. Whether or not I own a gun has nothing to do with influenza or if I have a broken leg."

Calls seeking comment from Brodeur were not immediately returned Tuesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.