As part of the Affordable Care Act that went into law a few years ago, primary care physicians are encouraged to inquire with patients about guns they may own. Doctors are permitted to ask whether or not a patient keeps a loaded gun at home, how many, and what types of firearms. The federal government’s Electronic Health Records initiative makes it possible for federal officials to learn the status of a patient’s gun ownership. Many states have enacted laws addressing this area as many gun owners feel this is a violation of 2nd Amendment rights and patient privacy laws.

Our gun trust attorneys serve Tennessee, Florida, and North Carolina. In this post we explore laws at the state-level in the states we serve and neighboring states throughout the South:

North Carolina
North Carolina requires concealed carry permit applicants to sign a medical record release. With the release, a sheriff may contact the applicant’s physician to inquire about mental health.South Carolina
House Bill 3583 was introduced to South Carolina lawmakers in 2013. It would prohibit doctors from inquiring with patients regarding gun ownership. It is still pending.Tennessee
Individuals in Tennessee will be asked about firearm ownership by their primary care doctor.Georgia
No pending legislation addressing federal rules.

Florida passed legislation in 2011 that prevents doctors from talking to their patients about guns. Doctors violating this law could be fined, cited, disciplined, and may even have their medical license revoked. Whether this violated constitutional rights came to light recently. In 2014, the legislation was questioned in a court case that asserted physicians’ right of free speech was being violated. An appeals court ruled that prohibiting physicians from asking about gun ownership was not in violation of the physicians’ constitutional rights.

Although doctors are required to prompt for answers to various personal questions from all patients, patients have the freedom to decline answering the question.

Before purchasing a firearm, contact a gun trust attorney to explore other options for acquiring and owning firearms. One of the benefits of using a gun trust to ‘store’ your firearms is that the individual does not own the firearm—the gun trust entity maintains ownership. Gun trusts can be modified at any time. Learn more about creating a gun trust.