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New DOJ, HHS Rules Aimed at Mental State of Gun Owners

Holder signs proposed regulations redefining who's mentally defective, while Sebelius wants to modify HIPAA privacy rule so more are reported to NICS.

by
Bridget Johnson

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January 3, 2014 - 12:52 pm
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WASHINGTON — As Capitol Hill was getting ready to march back to work after the holiday break, the Justice Department tweeted a photo of Attorney General Eric Holder’s hands signing new regulations to clarify who should be flagged in the federal background check system for mental health conditions.

That was coupled with a second action over at the Department of Health and Human Services, which aims to remove barriers that prevent some states from reporting mental health conditions to the background check system.

The Justice Department said Holder’s “clarification will help states determine what information may be appropriately shared with the federal background check system for firearms transfers – the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) – in order to keep guns out of the hands of individuals who may be a danger to themselves or others.”

The proposed regulation, which became available for review at the Federal Register on Friday afternoon, would revise the definition of “adjudicated as a mental defective” and “committed to a mental institution” to include “persons who are found incompetent to stand trial or not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect; persons lacking mental responsibility or deemed insane; and persons found guilty but mentally ill, regardless of whether these determinations are made by a state, local, federal or military court” as well as “a person committed to involuntary inpatient or outpatient treatment.”

“We are taking an important, commonsense step to clarify the federal firearms regulations, which will strengthen our ability to keep dangerous weapons out of the wrong hands,” Holder said. “This step will provide clear guidance on who is prohibited from possessing firearms under federal law for reasons related to mental health, enabling America’s brave law enforcement and public safety officials to better protect the American people and ensure the safety of our homes and communities.”

“And it is emblematic of the Justice Department’s broader commitment to use every tool and resource at its disposal to combat gun violence and prevent future tragedies while respecting the Constitutional rights to which all Americans are entitled,” he added.

Over at HHS, the rulemaking “would modify the HIPAA Privacy Rule to permit certain HIPAA-covered entities to disclose to the NICS the identities of persons prohibited by federal law from possessing or receiving a firearm for reasons related to mental health.”

The agency cited a 2012 Government Accountability Office report stating that 17 states had submitted fewer than 10 records of individuals prohibited for mental health reasons.

“There is a strong public safety need for this information to be accessible to the NICS, and some states are currently under-reporting or not reporting certain information to the NICS at all,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “This proposed rulemaking is carefully balanced to protect and preserve individuals’ privacy interests, the patient-provider relationship, and the public’s health and safety.”

HHS had previously solicited public comment on the issue in April, in advance of proposed rulemaking. More than 2,000 comments were received before HHS moved forward with the rule.

“Seeking help for mental health problems or getting treatment does not make someone legally prohibited from having a firearm, and nothing in this proposed rule changes that. Furthermore, nothing in this proposed rule would require reporting on general mental health visits or other routine mental health care, or exempt providers solely performing these treatment services from existing privacy rules,” HHS said in a statement.

“The proposal would give states and certain covered entities added flexibility to ensure accurate but limited information is reported to the NICS, which would not include clinical, diagnostic, or other mental health information. Instead, certain covered entities would be permitted to disclose the minimum necessary identifying information about individuals who have been involuntarily committed to a mental institution or otherwise have been determined by a lawful authority to be a danger to themselves or others or to lack the mental capacity to manage their own affairs. Importantly, the proposed permission focuses on those entities performing relevant commitments, adjudications, or data repository functions. The proposed modifications would merely permit, and not require, covered entities to report to the NICS.”

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Top Rated Comments   
“And it is emblematic of the Justice Department’s broader commitment to use every tool and resource at its disposal to combat gun violence and prevent future tragedies while respecting the Constitutional rights to which all Americans are entitled,” Holder added.

That's mighty rich, coming from the architect of Operation Fast And Furious, the Obama regime's own plan to commit mass murder for political ends. Hundreds of innocent Mexicans were murdered as the deliberate goal of F&F. Obama called it "Gun control under the radar" in a conversation with Sarah Brady.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Me concern is that I do not trust this administration.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
How can ANY president's "executive order" automatically strip away ANY citizen's Constitutional right(s)? How long before this regime designates all combat veterans with PTSD as ineligible to possess firearms? This is just another lie and ruse to further the neo-communist's agenda....God help us all.

Remember BENGHAZI!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (53)
All Comments   (53)
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I want to know why HHS is not protecting us all from this poison ????
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Toxic heavy metals in your food? Natural News Forensic Food Lab announcement

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QnnTQaCbayk
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The real story is concerning HIPAA; the language “persons who are found incompetent to stand trial or not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect; persons lacking mental responsibility or deemed insane; and persons found guilty but mentally ill, regardless of whether these determinations are made by a state, local, federal or military court” as well as “a person committed to involuntary inpatient or outpatient treatment" come from existing federal law and regulation. This does not appear to be a change.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Here's what I want to know. Under these new guidelines, if someone is temporally involuntarily committed, but then the get better, can the get their guns back?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It so nice the DOJ and HHS choose to rewrite laws that Congress passed. It's so refreshing to see democracy (or the laws of the Republic) not work.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
We have the inmates running the asylum, and now they are going to judge the mental state of the sane people. By sane people I mean those that didn't elect the idiots running this administration.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I probably should stop commenting on these sites. We lament that people are so easily led. But we seem to be no smarter than that monkey who is caught because he can't get his hand out of the hole because he won't let go of the rice set as bait.

Even if 75% of the American population immediately became politically aware, and motivated, and voted, the digital pre-programmable election machines are already in place. The president has taken on the robe of monarch. The sycophants and hangers on are in power and enriching themselves by the day. The Justice Department has turned and Lady Justice has left the room. The judges are stacked. And the biggest corporations are being legislated into new "to big to fail" roles (now, the health insurance industry) so that they can receive bailouts for surrendering autonomy and being made part of a fascist US government.

All-out revolution will pit farmers and stock brokers against kevlared combat-trained cops (I presume), and against the DHS's VIPR squads.

It'll take a true miracle to get back to the way we were just fifty years ago.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
“The Administration is committed to making sure that anyone who may pose a danger to themselves or others does not have access to a gun."

And is defending yourself from an armed home invader "posing a danger to others"? My guess is that the screamingly anti-gun current administration will decide unilaterally that it is.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The phrase "except mentally ill people" does not appear anywhere in the Federal Second Amendment. They have no authority to strip anyone with any mental illness of their Second Amendment rights.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
But in practice, people with serious mental illness problems were routinely hospitalized, often with very limited due process, for decades after the Second Amendment. The difference is that previous hospitalization was not generally a prohibition on gun ownership until quite recently.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Well yes, as a matter of due process, they do. Congress has the power to make all laws on all federal installations authorized in the constitution, that state's can in their jurisdictions.

The thing is, conviction by a jury is required* to deprive persons of their constitutionally protected rights. The gun banners want to change that where it is so, and keep the lack of that protections where it exists.

*It is required to be available as a protective measure, a judge's bench trial is of course an option for the defendant.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
With millions of young boys diagnosed as having ADD and other modern mental maladies, how long before nearly everyone is disqualified for "mental issues"?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
... or taking an anti depressant, or having done so in the past. Or declining one when offered.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Be careful what you wish for: Diagnosing mental illness is more of an "art" rather than pure science. Mental health "professionals" use a list of symptoms to determine what a patient's mental condition is. Not a blood test, brain scan, MRI or other definitive diagnostic tool is available to them. This list of symptoms is updated regularly so mental "diseases" change over time. For example ADHD didn't even exist 25 years ago. Now it is an extremely common childhood "illness" that is routinely treated with very potent psychotropic medications. Also, "mental illnesses" are typically incurable so once a professional "diagnoses" you as mentally ill, you wear that label for the rest of your life. If you've EVER been prescribed a anti depressant medication, should you be banned gun ownership for life? Where do you draw the line and do you want to give that control to the mental health community aided by our less than trustworthy government.

We all want to keep firearms out of the hands of crazy people, but I can see how going down this path can and will be exploited by the gun grabbers. The camel's nose is sniffing around the tent again, I fear.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
ADHD isn't an illness that you get committed for, and the proposed changes are not in the commitment area.

You are mistaken about mental health lacking diagnostic tests. Schizophrenia shows up as a loss of front lobe tissue on PET scans.

A lot of mental illness is in fact curable. Some people struggle with depression, and either recover spontaneously, or recover with some chemical help.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Sorry, it is you who are mistaken. PET scans cannot themselves DIAGNOSE mental illness. They are typically used to RULE out other types of disorders before making a diagnoses of mental illness. They work just fine for Alzheimers, cancer and brain injury. Bipolar disorder, for example, shows up on a PET as a "normal" brain. I know because I've been struggling with a loved one who was diagnosed bipolar 25 years ago and have a LOT of experience dealing with the mental health establishment. According to the last 6 psychiatrists, there is NO "cure" for bipolar disorder, only "treatment."
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
And competency on any given issue must be decided in a court, and argued by both sides. Competency to stand trial can be a matter of sanity, which IS NOT a medical diagnosis, nor should it be found on a medical chart or be pertinent to a medical diagnosis (other than perhaps as an issue of consent to treatment).

It seems to me that many people can argue incapacity at the time of an incident or a crime but could not be adjudicated mentally defective or irreconcilably insane.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The due process requirement is part of why involuntary commitment as a firearms disqualifier is not so scary.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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