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Mental Health and Backgrounds ChecksPosted Sunday, February 3, 2013, at 4:06 PM
While I may be mistaken, I think that every mass murder and attempted mass murder in the past several years has been committed by someone who was mentally ill.
For decades, the National Rifle Association has urged Congress to pass laws requiring that mental health records be computerized, compiled, and be part of a firearms background check.
For more than 20 years, Congress has followed the recommendations of the American Medical Association and declined to do this.
For all of modern history, in Western civilization, a right to absolute confidentially has been recognized in certain relationships.
These relationships are: Priest and penitent, husband and wife, lawyer and client and doctor and patient.
These rights to confidentiality exist for important reasons.
In each case, it is extremely important that the person be completely open and honest.
Without that, the relationship is fundamentally impaired.
For healthcare professionals in particular, a federal law, HIPPA, makes it a crime for a medical provider to reveal medical information to someone other than another healthcare professional without the written consent of the patient.
Imagine that you seek the services of a marriage counselor.
During a session, you share your frustration with the counselor by saying, "Sometimes, he makes me so mad I could just kill him!"
Ten years later, you decide to buy a firearm and discover that you are denied as a result of your background check for mental health reasons.
You weren't really serious when you said, "I could just kill him."
Not only that, you no doubt will be sharing your shock and astonishment with all of your friends.
Not only have you been unjustly denied your Constitutionally protected right to keep and bare arms, but very quickly, people will start withholding information from, and lying to, healthcare professionals.
Patients will be hindered in working through their feelings and doctors will be unable to properly treat patients.
Indiana has already taken a commonsense approach to this problem.
Whenever a person is found to have impaired mental health by a court, that finding is included in the background check database.
Clearly this system won't "catch" everyone.
But should it?
No system will ever be perfect.
Since there will no doubt be imperfections, shouldn't the default position support constitutionally protected rights?
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