In the first gun legislation passed since the Sandy Hook Shootings New York state today approved a new legislative package which would enhance gun regulation laws with in the state. The approved changes include the following:
1. Expanding the definition of illegal assault weapons.
2. Mandated life sentence without option of parole for anyone who kills a first responder (called the Webster Provision).
3. A new state-wide gun ownership database.
4. Prohibiting the publication and public sharing of gun registration lists with in that lists.
5. Restrictions on gun ownership for the mentally ill.
6. Limiting access to guns for the mentally ill.
7. Removal of firearms from patients whose mental health professional reported that those individuals were a risk to themselves or others.
8. Extension and expansion of Kendra’s Law, a law which allows judges to legally mandates out patient therapy.
This legislation solves only a piece of the gun violence puzzle, although it does address the need for mental health treatment and gun violence prevention. However, there are some down sides to mental health being addressed in this arena:
“such a requirement “represents a major change in the presumption of confidentiality that has been inherent in mental health treatment,” said Dr. Paul S. Appelbaum, the director of the Division of Law, Ethics, and Psychiatry at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, who said the Legislature should hold hearings on possible consequences of the proposal.
“The prospect of being reported to the local authorities, even if they do not have weapons, may be enough to discourage patients with suicidal or homicidal thoughts from seeking treatment or from being honest about their impulses,” he said.”
As you can see, such a law poses some interesting potential changes to mental health work in New York state, suggesting for example that we might be faced with more paperwork and less effective work as patients may become more concerned with our ability to ‘rat them out’.
You can read the full legislation, if interested, here.
Written By Georgianna Reilly, LMSW
SJS Staff Writer
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