Let’s say you received a letter in the mail from your state level law enforcement agency and said letter commands you to surrender any and all firearms in your possession to your local police department. You have no criminal record whatsoever and nothing, as far as you know, inhibits your legal right to own any firearms. What do you do? Well, one guy in NY found out what is going on. Upon receiving his letter, he contacted his attorney.
Apparently, the New York State Police have access to at least some citizens’ medical records. What they are doing is making a list of those people who have ever undergone some form of psychiatric care that included prescriptions for certain medications relating to the treatment of depression and anxiety.
I wish I was making this up. I wish this was the plot in some novel.
Some of you, no doubt, are thinking these medical records should be protected by HIPAA. However, again according to the story, this is the key part of that privacy law that applies.
A major goal of the Privacy Rule is to assure that individuals’ health information is properly protected while allowing the flow of health information needed to provide and promote high quality health care and to protect the public’s health and well being.
The emphasis on that last part is mine. See, the argument appears to be that the public’s health and well being may be in jeopardy if someone who was treated for depression or anxiety in the past now has access to firearms. Also, there is this portion of the New York SAFE Act.
The NY SAFE Act is designed to remove firearms from those who seek to do harm to themselves or others. This means keeping the minority of individuals with serious mental illness who may be dangerous away from access to firearms. This law should not dissuade any individual from seeking mental health services they need.
The question is, though, who determines which individuals are at risk for doing harm to themselves or others? Well, apparently, the answer in this case at least is the New York State Police.
Now, this doesn’t affect me because 1) I don’t live in New York and 2) I lost all my firearms in a tragic riverboat accident years ago. But, is this a sign of things to come in other states?