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People Denied Gun Rights Over Medical Records

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A newly created database of New Yorkers deemed too mentally unstable to carry firearms has grown to roughly 34,500 names, a previously undisclosed figure that has raised concerns among some mental health advocates that too many people have been categorized as dangerous.

The database, established in the aftermath of the mass shooting in 2012 at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and maintained by the state Division of Criminal Justice Services, is the result of the Safe Act.

It is an expansive package of gun control measures pushed through by the administration of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. The law, better known for its ban on assault weapons, compels licensed mental health professionals in New York to report to the authorities any patient “likely to engage in conduct that would result in serious harm to self or others.”

“That seems extraordinarily high to me,” said Sam Tsemberis, a former director of New York City’s involuntary hospitalization program for homeless and dangerous people, now the chief executive of Pathways to Housing, which provides housing to the mentally ill. “Assumed dangerousness is a far cry from actual dangerousness.”

Similar laws in other states have raised the ire of gun rights proponents, who worry that people who posed no threat at all would have their rights infringed. Mental health advocates have also argued that the laws unnecessarily stigmatized people with mental illnesses.

Because the names in New York’s database and the circumstances of their cases are private, it is impossible to independently determine whether the people in it are truly dangerous.

The database figures were obtained by The New York Times through a Freedom of Information Law request.

Gun control supporters argue a wide net is appropriate, given the potentially dire consequences.

Even if just one dangerous person had a gun taken away, “that’s a good thing,” said Brian Malte, senior national policy director of the Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence.

The National Rifle Association of America favors a separate “process of adjudication” to make sure that “these decisions are not being made capriciously and maliciously,” Andrew Arulanandam, a spokesman, said.

Mental health professionals and advocates point out, however, the vast majority of people with mental illnesses are not violent. Accurately predicting whether someone will be violent, they said, is also a highly fraught process.

Under the 2013 law, the reports prepared by doctors, psychologists, nurses and social workers are first sent to county officials. If they agree with the assessments, the officials then input the names into the state database. The information is retained for five years. If the authorities find a person in the database has a gun permit — necessary to purchase a handgun in New York — they are required to revoke the license and seize any guns. The people in the database are barred from obtaining a permit until their names are purged.

Under the 2013 law, New York is one of the most restrictive states in the country in terms of mental health and firearms.

Under federal and most state laws, people with serious mental illnesses lose their gun rights only if they have been involuntarily committed to a mental health center, or have been legally designated as mentally ill or incompetent; both relatively rare occurrences.
A small number of states, including California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland and New York, have stricter criteria for people with serious mental health issues to purchase and possess firearms.

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  • MandaLynne

    “Even if just one dangerous person had a gun taken away, “that’s a good thing,” said Brian Malte, senior national policy director of the Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence.”

    Inversely, even if just one non-dangerous person has a gun taken away that is a bad thing.

    • Rattlerjake

      [“Inversely, even if just one non-dangerous person has a gun taken away that is a bad thing.”] Change bad to WORSE (or as a common-core libturd would say, a more badder) thing!

  • Shorty Stuff

    This would cause all liberals to have their guns taken away, because liberalism is a mental disorder — look it up.

    • Ludlow Porch

      No, No, wait until the libs shoot themselves, before taking their guns. Can you commit suicide with a slingshot? How about paintball?

  • reggiec

    I can see what is coming already. The left will use that list describing as dangerous; Anti abortion beliefs, Second Amendment supporters, those against same sex marriage, prepers, etc.
    You know the same list that DHS put out for possible domestic terrorists.

  • Steve j

    This is nothing new. Simply criminalize everything and every one. Those that somehow slip through those cracks simply get labeled a kook.
    Viola!
    Instant disarmament.
    Just like all the returning vets that were labeled dangerous due to mental instability.

  • Ludlow Porch

    The inmates have taken over the asylum of New York. I would be looking for another place to live.

  • HappyG

    Make no mistake, much like Feinstein’s inclusion of “one military characteristic’ which would exclude any weapon with a ‘hand grip’ (See hand guns), the wordsmiths in the WH Ministry of Population Control will insist on language that excludes any who have ever sought the help of mental health professionals in their lifetimes. Whether voluntary, of involuntary…Then of course, HHS will then proclaim that ‘all children must undergo mental evaluations for the greater good ‘, and the end of free America will be on the horizons for those who have long sought to destroy it from within…

  • Doc

    If you went to a shrink 30 years ago you get denied your Second Amendment Rights.
    Well, you keep electing these morons to office.

  • Patriot47

    “shall not be infringed”. Read it and weep, libtards.

  • ramrodd

    Mental health is the avenue to gun confiscation..
    Politicians and media push gun control in a dishonest manner..

    http://fff.org/explore-freedom/article/who-is-mentally-ill/

    American Psychiatric Asso: Half of Americans are mentally ill..
    After some crafting by politicians it will be all Americans except for the politicians…

  • Centurian2010

    The sole reason mental health coverage was included in 0bamacare.