By Jorge Amselle
I certainly don’t mean to insult those with metal health issues but there is really no other way to describe the rushed through and thoughtless NY Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Act of 2013 other than calling it insane. And why not, since a major portion of the bill deals with mental health issues and access to firearms.
Rather than make people in New York safer, this legislation guarantees to make New Yorkers both less safe and less free, and that takes some effort. It is hard to choose my favorite part but let me start with this gem. Effective immediately, all mental health professionals (that includes all doctors, psychologist, nurses, and clinical social workers) in the state of New York are required by law to tell on you.
Goodbye to doctor patient confidentiality, goodbye to any right to medical privacy. If your podiatrist has any reason to suspect you might be a danger to yourself or others he has to report you to the authorities. Your name is then cross referenced against New York’s comprehensive list of mandatory firearms registrations and if they get a match you lose your gun rights. You are graciously allowed to appeal and good luck with that.
Of course, most people who seek mental health care are suffering from common anxiety or mild depression easily treatable by various anti-depressants. However, anyone suffering from these mild and common conditions could conceivably pose a danger to themselves or others, not to mention those seeking marriage counseling. But from the perspective of your doctor what possible incentive would he or she have not to report you? Better to err on the side of caution than risk remaining silent.
The law does say that doctors won’t be held criminally or civilly liable if they, “in good faith,” fail to report on you. But if you believe that there is a bridge in the NYC area you may be interested in buying.
The obvious result of this law is that gun owners, or anyone who may ever consider wanting a gun at some point in their life and would like to keep that option open, are going to avoid mental health professionals like the plague. Those who may legitimately need help will not receive it for fear of losing their rights. This law guarantees more, and crazier, untreated people with mental health issues, all flying under the radar. Feel safer yet?
The rest of the legislation is chock full of other cosmetic and absurd restrictions such as forcing you to re-register your firearms very five years, requiring background checks and registration of all ammunition purchases, banning some guns based on the way they look, and my other favorite, making it a misdemeanor to load more than seven rounds in your 10 round magazine. That last one is both unenforceable and absurd, now that’s government efficiency.
Hilariously, the law applies to current and retired police officers as well. This is funny not because the laws that apply to you and me should not equally apply to the police and politicians but because they are angry that they were not exempted. Of course, that was an accident and the legislature promises to fix it in the near future.
New York’s law is to be the model for other states, look for Connecticut, Illinois and California to quickly follow suit. Gun owners should be prepared to listen to a litany of inane excuses like how you don’t need a semi-automatic firearm or 10 rounds of ammunition to hunt deer. I will concede that point. I don’t need all that to hunt deer. But deer don’t shoot back nor are they spree killers, serial rapists, muggers, burglars, highwaymen or footpads. For these creatures I do need more than 10 rounds and a fast shooting gun, just like the police do.
Jorge Amselle is a certified firearms instructor and writer covering all aspects of the industry from military and law enforcement firearms and training to the shooting sports. His youtube channel http://www.youtube.com/amselle