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Florida to appeal federal court ruling striking down state gun law

Florida Governor Rick Scott announced Monday that his state will appeal the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida [official website] ruling that struck down [order, PDF] a Florida law that barred doctors from discussing the dangers of gun ownership with patients. Earlier this month Judge Marcia Cooke held that the Firearm Owners' Privacy Act (FOPA) [text] violated doctors' freedom of speech rights [JURIST report] under the First Amendment [Cornell LII backgrounder] because FOPA was so vague that it failed to provide doctors with clear guidance on how to abide by it. Cooke reasoned that the law "did not constitute a permissible regulation of professional speech or occupational conduct that imposed a mere incidental burden" on doctors' freedom of expression, in that FOPA prohibited truthful and non-misleading speech within the doctors' profession. In making her decision Cooke rejected the state's argument that the act is a necessary measure to protect citizens' Second Amendment [Cornell LII backgrounder] right to keep and bear arms. Florida will appeal the decision [AP report] to the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit [official website].

Cooke had issued a preliminary injunction [JURIST report] in the case in September. She found that the law in no way affects the constitutional right to keep and bear arms. In July 2010 the Chicago City Council [official website] unanimously approved a new gun control law that bans gun shops in the city and prohibits gun owners from stepping outside their homes, including porches and garages, with a handgun. Shortly thereafter a group of Chicago citizens, supported by both the National Rifle Association and the National Association of Firearm Retailers [advocacy websites], filed suit against the city [JURIST report] claiming the new ordinance infringes on their constitutional rights. In June 2010 the US Supreme Court ruled in McDonald v. Chicago [opinion; JURIST report] that the Second Amendment applies to states and municipalities as well as the federal government, thereby overturning Chicago's ban on handguns and raising considerable uncertainty about what amount of regulations of firearms was permissible. Two years earlier the US Supreme Court [official website] ruled in District of Columbia v. Heller [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] that the Second Amendment protects the right to possess a handgun for the purpose of self-defense, overturning the District of Columbia's restrictive firearms law.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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