As a mental health consumer, I absolutely understand the concern over having violent people have access to guns, especially if mental illness plays a role in their violence. In fact, I understand better than most of you do because while you understand it from one point of view, I understand it from two. However, the provision in New York State’s new gun-control laws, as quoted in the WSJ’s article linked below, is insanely flawed (Yes I did!). Firstly, healthcare providers are ALREADY REQUIRED to report to local law enforcement if a patient/client “is likely to engage in conduct that would result in serious harm to self or others.” (I would certainly assume every State has some form of this requirement). Any health provider who has valid information that a patient/client may become violent towards themselves or others and does not report that information would lose their license (and perhaps face criminal charges) if that patient/client subsequently harmed themselves or someone else. This part of the provision is simply a regurgitation of the ethical obligations of a health provider that are already in place. Secondly, the fact that a patient/client would be “added to a statewide criminal background check database” offends me. Being added to a criminal database is ludicrous. How can one be added to a criminal database when one has not COMMITTED a crime?
I concede that I have no good answer for the question of how to deal with the relationship between mental illness and gun control, but labeling the mentally ill as criminal when no crime has been committed reminds me of a time when Jews were forced to wear gold stars on their shoulders to self-identify as Jewish because everyone knew Jews were “parasitic vermin”1. Ring any bells?
People, the implications are scary.