It would be one thing if this new removal of a basic privacy right had been debated and hammered out between different parties. Instead, it was imposed by a gun-prohibitionist President based on calculating what he could get away with.
Basically, now if you have a mental health crisis you have to worry about a doctor reporting you to the Feds. According to The Hill, “Rules eased on providing mental health records for background checks.”
The Obama administration is seeking to make it easier for people to pass along mental health records for people legally banned from owning a firearm.
Some health providers, courts and state officials have been hesitant to share records because of strict privacy laws. As a result, the federal background check system, known as the NICS, has significant gaps on people disqualified from owning guns because of mental illnesses.
New rules issued Monday by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) are intended to make it clear that legal authorities can pass along mental health records that could be valuable in a background check.
The rules from the Obama administration, to be published Tuesday, clarify that only limited information about the patient is shared – only a person’s name and the entity that made the ruling.
“Underlying diagnoses, treatment records, and other identifiable health information are not provided to or maintained by the NICS,” the rule reads.
Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), people who have been involuntarily committed to a mental institution or found “not guilty” in court by reason of insanity cannot purchase firearms. Every licensed firearms dealer is required to perform a background check of each buyer to determine whether they’re eligible for the purchase.
I don’t have as much problem with putting a person on the list who uses the insanity defense in a court of law. But what kind of checks and balances are in place on each “entity” that notifies the FBI? I don’t see any mention of an appeals process in place for those who may have been wrongly diagnosed or reported.
There is no question that, if the system works, we might be safer. But what if the system doesn’t work right. The Hill tells us, “Only two-thirds of states require mandatory reporting of mental health records, in part because people have raised concerns about privacy.”
Well, yes. So what about those concerns? If they kept the states from instituting laws then there is nothing in Obama’s executive action that deals with them. He has simply overridden them.
Now, when people are having problems and consider getting professional help, they are going to have to worry about the possibility of being permanently disarmed. We may see more people avoiding mental health care because of this executive fiat.