NPA Condemns Appeals Court Ruling on Firearm Safety

Contact: Becky Martin, 202-420-7896,

Washington DC—July 29, 2014

The National Physicians Alliance (NPA) strongly opposes the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals decision to uphold a physician gag law that limits a physician’s ability to discuss gun safety with patients.

“This is a very disturbing decision and we support the plaintiffs’ petition for a rehearing by the full 11th Circuit Court of Appeals,” says NPA President Dr. Jim Scott. “This is another case in which politically contentious social issues like gun ownership have empowered special interest lobbyists to storm the doctor-patient relationship. This law undercuts the medical community’s ability to provide care that it grounded in scientific fact and responsible evidence. The Court got it wrong.”

As a cornerstone of standard medical care, physicians routinely discuss preventive topics with patients, including smoking cessation, car seats and immunizations for children, and household gun safety. Evidence shows that physicians’ counseling on gun safety makes a difference.

More than 30,000 people die from gun-related deaths each year in the United States, a country in which one third of households has a gun.  Guns in the home add risk for homicide, suicide, and likelihood of accidental death. Children are particularly susceptible.  Firearm homicide is the second leading cause of death for young people age 1-19 in the United States. According to one study, one third of handguns are kept unlocked and loaded and most children know where they are kept.

Counseling on gun safety can reduce these risks. “When pediatricians talk with parents about gun safety, parents listen,” says NPA board member Dr. Ricky Choi. “Sadly, this law will lead to many missed opportunities and children will die as a result. I can’t uphold my duty to provide high quality care unless I can openly discuss safety with my patients.”

“Our key responsibility as physicians is to help our patients stay healthy, and avoid injuries and illness,” says NPA board member Dr. Mark Ryan.  “This awful law directly prevents us from doing our jobs to protect children and families. It puts politics in the exam room and science on the curb.”


Uniting physicians across medical specialties, the National Physicians Alliance creates research and education programs that promote health and foster active engagement of health care providers with their communities to achieve high quality, affordable health care for all.  The NPA offers a professional home to physicians who share a commitment to professional integrity and health justice.