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FMA, NRA reach compromise on gun-privacy bill

The National Rifle Association finally met its match: the Florida Medical Association.

The NRA had pushed a bill (HB 155) that would have subjected doctors to criminal penalties if they asked patients whether they owned guns.

Physicians pushed back, saying that there are many situations in which such a question is necessary to preserve a patient's health and safety -- or that of the public.

Tuesday morning, the sponsor of the bill announced that a compromise had been reached. Rep. Jason Brodeur said the bill as amended would strip out all the civil and criminal penalties and allow physicians to ask the gun question if it related to health and safety. They also could record the information in their records.

In a nod to the NRA, doctors would not be allowed to discriminate against gun owners.

Committee members praised Brodeur, R-Sanford, for brokering the deal.

"This is a much more reasonable bill than the one that was originally filed," said Rep. Ronald Renuart, R-Ponte Vedra, who is a physician. "I stand against any censoring of the doctor-patient relationship."

Renuart said the idea of allowing the government to dictate the conversations in the exam room "kind of smells of tyranny."

The committee quickly passed the compromise language on a voice vote.

Carol Gentry, founder and special correspondent of Health News Florida, has four decades of experience covering health finance and policy, with an emphasis on consumer education and protection.