[This is re-published, with permission, from Stephen Wenger’s DUF Digest newsletter.]
Health care workers told North Dakota lawmakers Thursday that a broad gun rights bill that would prohibit them from asking patients about gun ownership would hinder their work and restrict their right to free speech.
North Dakota lawmakers are considering a measure that would allow concealed carry permit holders to pack guns at more public places. The proposal also takes aim at several other gun-related issues, including the prohibition on medical workers.
Several medical workers told the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee that section of the bill interferes with the patient-doctor relationship and is contrary to accepted medical practice [sic].
“Not asking about firearms sets up a physician for malpractice while violating their First Amendment right to free speech,” said Courtney Koebele, executive director of the North Dakota Medical Association. “Simply stated, imposing this provision puts physicians in a perilous position and patients at risk.”
Dr. Gabriela Balf, a Bismarck psychiatrist and former family doctor, told the committee that [she] would continue to ask patients about firearms even if state law forbids it. “I will be an infractor,” she said.