Gun Control, Mental Health, and Healthcare Privacy

This is a discussion on Gun Control, Mental Health, and Healthcare Privacy within the The Second Amendment & Gun Legislation Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; 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 ...

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Thread: Gun Control, Mental Health, and Healthcare Privacy

  1. #1
    Member Array Clodbert's Avatar
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    Gun Control, Mental Health, and Healthcare Privacy

    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.

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    I couldn't have said it any better.
    I had this same discussion just last night.
    Thread subscribed , < at least til it derails>

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    MJK
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    It's virtually impossible, except in extreme cases, to reliably predict who would be very likely to commit violent crimes based on exhibited symptoms.
    [T]he unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people. ---Tenche Coxe, The Pennsylvania Gazette, Feb. 20, 1788.

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    Member Array Clodbert's Avatar
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    I know it's tacky to bump your own thread, but in light of today's news of the President's executive actions on gun violence, I'd like to get a little more dialogue going. The seventeenth executive order states that no federal law prohibits health care providers from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement. I thought a federal law DID prohibit reporting, at least in most circumstances, and that law was HIPAA.

    Also the "threats of violence" phrase is very vague, probably intentionally so, and could result in a "slippery slope" situation wherein health care providers are reporting patients they perceive to be mentally unstable to law enforcement with the intent of restricting that patient from purchasing a firearm. This may mean patients who have not been evaluated and then diagnosed with a mental disorder by a physician. So how could we keep it objective as opposed to subjective? There is a huge gray area here.

    I need to do more research on this particular executive order but there are many questions surrounding it in relation to HIPAA. If anyone has seen this addressed, please chime in with a link or reference.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Clodbert View Post
    I know it's tacky to bump your own thread, but in light of today's news of the President's executive actions on gun violence, I'd like to get a little more dialogue going. The seventeenth executive order states that no federal law prohibits health care providers from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement. I thought a federal law DID prohibit reporting, at least in most circumstances, and that law was HIPAA.
    I seem to recall that here anyone may contact DPS with a concern about a license holder's fitness to keep their license.
    DPS of course determines if the complaint warrants investigation or action.

    Presently we have many reporting requirements on physicians which might on the surface appear to violate
    HIPPA, but don't. Psychiatrists must report child abuse, for example. Physicians must report certain communicable
    diseases. Psychiatrists presently (and psychologists too) may (in most states) make a decision to contact the
    authorities and have a mental hold placed on someone. That is well established and clearly is a matter of breaching
    privacy.

    I think the laws and rules are complex, but it isn't a matter of "no can do" because of HIPPA.
    If the Union is once severed, the line of separation will grow wider and wider, and the controversies which are now debated and settled in the halls of legislation will then be tried in fields of battle and determined by the sword.
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