One potential solution to the "gun problem" that many gun control advocates have suggested is that mental health providers and state governments should provide a patient's information to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) database should that patient demonstrate "red flags" for violent behavior. This way, potentially dangerous mentally ill patients would be barred from purchasing firearms. This presents two problems:
1) How would this comply with HIPAA, the health information privacy act? This situation is different from criminal data because these patients have not committed a crime. How would HIPAA be circumvented in this scenario? Would we slowly but surely lose our right to patient privacy and thus nullify an integral component of the Hippocratic oath?
2) How do we know which mental illnesses are most likely to strongly associate with using firearms to commit violent acts? I doubt we have compelling data in that regard. I'm almost positive that most attempts to predict with any certainty which mental illnesses result in homicidal actions would be abject failures. It would be a guessing game. Even if we did have that data, how would we make the decisions as to whom can and cannot purchase a firearm? Would we risk denying mentally ill but not criminally violent people their 2A rights? Do people even see that as a problem?
I don't think gun control advocates have thought this one through. Feedback appreciated.