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You know that Chinese curse, may you live in interesting times? Check this from “The federal Department of Veterans Affairs says its mental health professionals won’t comply with a new gun law in New York that requires them to report the names of patients they believe likely to hurt themselves or others. The reporting provision is set to take effect Saturday.” As we reported earlier, Governor Cuomo’s office has yet to issue exact guidelines for mental health professionals required to report “dangerous” patients to the State so that their guns may (or may not) be confiscated. A practice which will deter seriously mentally ill people from seeking help and increase the danger of spree killers. While vets won’t [publicly] agree with the second part of that statement, they do with the first . . .

Several veterans and their advocates say it would deter many from seeking counseling and medications to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder or other psychological issues. Veterans fear their rights would be taken away.

Especially as the SAFE Act also doesn’t include any provisions for restoring the gun rights of citizens disarmed by bureaucrats. And here’s the kicker:

VA spokesman Mark Ballesteros says federal laws protecting veterans’ treatment records take precedence.

So I’m thinking that federal law protecting the right to keep and bear arms (a.k.a., the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution) also takes precedence over New York’s SAFE Act. As the Supreme Court ruled in the McDonald decision. Right?

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  1. Good piece, two comments:

    1) The call of a VA official probably doesn’t count as legal precedent for supremacy of Federal law (but I see your point, don’t mean to disparage that)
    2) Need to be really careful what we support regarding Federal law trumping state law; that one could cut both ways.

  2. It’s HIPAA, and this part of the NY “SAFE Act” is a serious violation of doctor-patient confidentiality (not to mention constitutionally-protected rights).

  3. My humble attempt to answer your question Mr. Farago is as follows:

    You would think the US 2A would prevail but the states can legislate “reasonable” restrictions for the health safety and welfare of it citizens.

    It’ll take a legal challenge as to the reasonableness of these restrictions under different approaches to argue the state has exceeded its authority restricting the 2A Rights.

    That challenge will have to wind through whichever court system it is initiated until it is presented to the US Supreme Court for consideration. Then the Supreme Court may or may not agree to hear the case and the outcome will likely depend on the make-up of the court at that time.

    Makes me think of the phrase; “There are no guarantees in life”.

  4. I suspect the Dept of Veteran Affairs said that is because the Federal Government is not bound by state laws, only by Federal laws and regulations. Any employees of the Dept. in NY or any other state would not follow state law.

    • The SCOUS has ruled that fellons need not register their firearms (or report them)
      The US Const. (and all associated documents) IS the Law of th Land

  5. I’m a Vet. I work in the VA. I happen at this point to be the Custodian of Records and the Alternate Privacy & Freedom of Information Officer at a VA Hospital thats sees A LOT of NY Vets- (they like the way we treat them). I spent 20+ as a Military Police Officer and another 10+ as a Federal Police Officer…a total of 25 as an FTO and firearms & tactics instructor. I’m gratified the VA decided to do this… Vets have been talking about this A LOT over the last few weeks and so have the Doctors at my hospital at least. My son is a Marine Vet and flat out said he was worried about talking about what he faced in Falujah, and Afghanistan before that, to his VA Docs for fear where it would go. He’s a shooter for fun and venison. I shoot for fun and would like to continue to shoot alongside my son. On the other hand, as a Federal employee… I give it a couple weeks before Gen Shinseki’s boss over-rides Mr. Ballesteros .

  6. It seems to me that this would create two levels of privacy. If you go to a private health care institution they can tell the state about your mental status but if your neigbhor goes to the VA they can’t have their mental status reported to the state.

    It seems like I remember Tresmond talking about that in regards to registration of firearms, that constitutionally you can’t have two different levels of privacy for individuals.

  7. HIPPA laws only apply to healthcare workers. If protected information is given to non healthcare people, it’s public information! For example, the board of nurses cautioned nurses that when they renew their license, their answers to the questions about legal and mental health problems are automatically public records for anybody to see.

  8. I am a Vietnam vet retiree; 5 years tanks, 19 years attack and recon aviation. Regardless of the perspective of any particular bureaucrat at any level in state or federal government agency, my experience (and the evident lesson of history) is that the highly predictable loyalty of the bulk of political and agency employees will be to paycheck and career rather than to U.S. Constitution and citizen rights. Elected and appointed officials have great authority with little public accountability. Many see veterans as an an easy to control sub-group dependent upon government for money and medicine and also see military service, training and warrior ethic as a threat to their personal comfort and power. Odds are that ANY means to declare us unfit, unstable and unworthy will suffice. They may love face time with wounded warriors at parades, funerals and events but, in my view, politicians of both parties see all of us as low rent, incompetent and borderline members of a peasant population.
    Preservation of our Constitutional protections tends to be perceived by the elite ruling class of Kerry, Feinstein, Bloomberg and even Hussein himself as potential threat to their well being. Erosion of the Second Amendment is mere precursor to loss of the First and eventually all of the rest. These guys (and gals) are well schooled on how to eat the elephant of freedom; one bite at a time.

    • “Regardless of the perspective of any particular bureaucrat at any level in state or federal government agency, my experience (and the evident lesson of history) is that the highly predictable loyalty of the bulk of political and agency employees will be to paycheck and career rather than to U.S. Constitution and citizen rights.”

      This times 1000


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