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View Diary: The Witch Hunt Is ON! Updated-2X** (79 comments)

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  •  I've got some problems with the SAFE act, too, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lgmcp, gerrilea, Glen The Plumber

    particularly the likely chilling effect on those who should seek treatment, but I think you're mischaracterizing what the Act has done regarding considering mental illness in the licensing function.

    The part of the Act that you bolded is not only not yet effective (unlike the reporting requirement), and therefore irrelevant to this particular incident -- it is not new. This is the current law:

    No license shall be issued or renewed except for an applicant ... (d) who has stated whether he or she  has ever suffered any mental illness or been confined to any hospital or institution, public or private, for mental illness;
    That is, applicants already had to state whether they suffered any mental illness, which was supposed to be considered in the licensing process, but did not automatically disqualify them. Again, existing law:
    4. Investigation. Before a license is issued or renewed ... the records of the appropriate office of the department of mental hygiene concerning previous or present mental illness of the applicant shall be available for inspection by the investigating officer of the police authority.
    The new law (effective Jan. 1, 2014) moves the part you've bracketed, regarding confinement, into a different section. It denies eligibility to those who've been confined, not to everyone who has or has had a mental illness.
    •  I cannot say I agree with this assessment. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Villanova Rhodes, Robobagpiper

      The "eligibility" section doesn't make exceptions.  As of Jan. 1, 2014, having a mental illness disqualifies you automatically from getting a firearms permit.  The local county licensing clerks and sheriffs could not grant you a permit to own a firearm.  There is no need for an investigation past that fact.

      What you're referencing would be someone who doesn't admit to having a mental illness and tries to get a firearms permit.  The "investigating officer" can look up the records of anyone past, present and future.

      And that's what looks like happened here.  We still don't know how the State Police got his name or the medication he was on.  What "records" were they looking at?

      -7.62; -5.95 The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane.~Tesla

      by gerrilea on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 12:43:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm sorry, gerrilea, but I think you're reading it (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gerrilea, Glen The Plumber

        wrong, even though I think your basic fears are understandable in this climate.

        With respect to those who have not been confined -- and the new law will actually help in clarifying that means involuntary commitment or one type of civil commitment -- the substance of the law has not changed at all. That's just fact, not a subjective assessment. The words are the same in the new law as they are in the current law.

        With respect to those who have not been confined, what is required is disclosure of mental illness, not license denial based on it. Otherwise, there would be no need to require a report that someone is "likely to engage in conduct that would result in serious harm to self or others" -- professionals could simply be required to report that a person has been diagnosed with or treated for mental illness.

        New York City, on the other hand, already had standards closer to what you fear New York State is adopting, explicitly providing for (but still not requiring) denial on the basis of alcoholism, certain medications, and the like. Here's a good summary -- footnotes omitted & bolding mine:

        Both federal and New York state law also contain restrictions on handgun possession by the mentally ill. However, New York City has a much broader definition of disqualifying mental illnesses than either state or federal law. The federal statute, U.S.C. § 922(g)(4), requires an adjudication of mental defectiveness or commitment to a mental institution in order for handgun possession to be unlawful. Similarly, New York State requires a license applicant to declare “whether he or she has ever suffered from any mental illness or been confined to any hospital or institution, public or private, for mental illness.” New York City also explicitly lists mental illness as grounds for denial of a license, but handgun license applicants in New York City must also state whether they have ever “[s]uffered from mental illness, or due to mental illness received treatment, been admitted to a hospital or institution, or taken medication.” An answer of “yes” to this question requires the applicant to submit an explanation on a separate form, and provides grounds for rejection. Thus, under the current rules, the License Division can deny an individual’s application simply because he or she has taken antidepressants (which are covered under “medication”) or has seen a psychiatrist (which is covered under “treatment”). Current New York City handgun license holders must also notify the License Division’s Incident Section if they receive psychiatric treatment or treatment for alcoholism or drug abuse, or if they suffer from “any disability or condition that may affect the handling of a handgun, including but not limited to epilepsy, diabetes, fainting spells, blackouts, temporary loss of memory, or nervous disorder.” Any of these conditions may result in suspension or revocation of the license, following review and evaluation by License Division investigators.
        NYC’s Handgun Laws in the Wake of Heller and McDonald (PDF)

        I'm not addressing the incident you describe at all, which is not governed by the section of the law that you bolded and that I'm discussing. That would require more time than I have and I suspect the facts are not clear yet anyway.

        Perhaps a New York lawyer will drop by and give a definitive answer. Thanks for the discussion.

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