See a Shrink, Lose Your Weapon; the White House Punches a Loophole in Patient-Privacy Rules
Byline: Michael E. Hammond, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES
In a preternatural example of tone-deafness, an administration under fire for snooping into Americans' privacy is now proposing to waive federal privacy laws so psychiatrists can report their gun-owning patients to the government.
The Department of Health and Human Service's notice of proposed rule-making, floated by the White House in a Friday media dump, would waive portions of the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to allow psychiatrists to report their patients to the FBI's gun-ban blacklist (the NICS system) on the basis of confidential communications.
The 1968 Gun Control Act bans guns for anyone who is adjudicated as a mental defective or ... committed to a mental institution. Unfortunately, under 2008 NICS Improvement Act, drafted by Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, and its regulations, that adjudication can be made by any other lawful authority. This means a diagnosis by a single psychiatrist in connection with a government program.
In the case of nearly 175,000 law-abiding veterans, the lawful authority has been a Department of Veterans Affairs psychiatrist, who, generally, will take away a veteran's guns by unilaterally declaring him incompetent and appointing a guardian over his financial affairs. Certainly, the findings can be appealed, but most veterans don't have the tens of thousands of dollars to hire lawyers and psychiatrists to do so.
Although the problem hasn't yet been as apparent in other areas, police and firemen on Social Security disability for post-traumatic stress disorder, Medicare seniors with Alzheimer's, and people who as children were diagnosed under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act program with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder will ultimately face the same fate. Even a subsidized Obamacare policy might now make Americans participants in a federal program.
In fact, that process of expanding gun bans has now begun:
One gun owner in a virulently anti-gun state was placed on the gun-ban blacklist because many years ago, police, without the approval of any court, put him in a mental facility overnight. The facility found nothing wrong with him, but that didn't stop his state from recently turning him in to the FBI for a lifetime gun ban.
In another case, a gun owner in an anti-gun state lost his guns because of a prescription for a psychiatric drug.
Will imposing gun bans on Americans who seek counseling keep us safe ?
Ask the 175,000 veterans who have lost their guns. Shortly before taking their constitutional rights away with no due process, the government had no problem issuing them fully automatic assault rifles and sending them out to patrol the streets of Baghdad and Kabul. …