Did you know that New York legislators had less two hours to read the SAFE Act before voting on it? That Governor Cuomo signed the bill as an emergency measure, avoiding the normal three-day waiting period? That the Act compels licensed mental health professionals to report any patient they deem “likely to engage in conduct that would result in serious harm to self or others”? Who can wave their gun rights bye-bye without anything remotely resembling due process? True story. And now the New York Times reveals that the Act’s mental health prohibition database has 34,500 entries . .
“That seems extraordinarily high to me,” said Sam Tsemberis, a former director of New York City’s involuntary hospitalization program for homeless and dangerous people, now the chief executive of Pathways to Housing, which provides housing to the mentally ill. “Assumed dangerousness is a far cry from actual dangerousness.”
Kinda like assuming that New Yorkers shouldn’t be able to exercise their natural, civil and Constitutional right to keep and bear arms until and unless they can satisfy the Powers That Be that they’re not fraternizing with felons on Facebook.
In this case, however, cops are obliged to revoke the gun license and confiscate firearms from anyone who’s on the list – which is compiled without the gun owner’s knowledge. They are barred from possessing a firearm until their names are purged from the system.
Someone on the list can challenge their inclusion in court – at their own expense, of course. It’s way worse than that, if you can believe it.
The way the law has played out, local officials said, frontline mental health workers feel compelled to routinely report mentally ill patients brought to an emergency room by the police or ambulances. County health officials are then supposed to vet each case before it is sent to Albany [for a final decision on whether or not to include an individual on the “No Second Amendment for You” list]. But so many names are funneled to county health authorities through the system — about 500 per week statewide — that they have become, in effect, clerical workers, rubber-stamping the decisions, they said.
From when the reporting requirement took effect on March 16, 2013 until Oct. 3, 41,427 reports have been made on people who have been flagged as potentially dangerous. Among these, 40,678 — all but a few hundred cases — were passed to Albany by county officials, according to the data obtained by The Times . . .
Kenneth M. Glatt, commissioner of mental hygiene for Dutchess County, said that at first, he had carefully scrutinized every name sent to him through the Safe Act. But then he realized that he was just “a middleman,” and that it was unlikely he would ever meet or examine any of the patients. So he began simply checking off the online boxes, sometimes without even reviewing the narrative about a patient.
“Every so often I read one just to be sure,” Dr. Glatt, a psychologist, said. “I am not going to second guess. I don’t see the patient. I don’t know the patient.” He said it would be more efficient — and more honest — for therapists to report names directly to the Division of Criminal Justice Services, which checks them against gun permit applications.
So New Yorkers’ gun rights can be revoked by “frontline mental health workers.” How great is that? For the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, it’s awesome!
Even if just one dangerous person had a gun taken away, “that’s a good thing,” said Brian Malte, senior national policy director of the Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence.
But what if one person who’s had their gun(s) taken away dies because they couldn’t defend themselves or their family? Isn’t that a bad thing? Anyway, when the irredeemably anti-gun New York Times thinks a gun control law is a POS, you can bet it’s a steaming POS. Of course, the Times can’t leave it at that. After exposing the inefficiency and uselessness of the SAFE Act’s mental health provisions, the Times concludes is doesn’t go far enough.
Despite the breadth of the law, significant loopholes remain. Outside of New York City, permits are not required to buy long guns, so nothing would stop someone in the database from buying a shotgun, for example, after being released from a hospital. Also, it is unclear exactly how the process for confiscating someone’s guns is enforced. And law enforcement officials may not even be aware of all of the guns someone owns.