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Gun Confiscation Is Here, Thanks To This State’s Secret Database

Image source: KQED

Image source: KQED

Nearly 35,000 New York State residents have been stripped of their Second Amendment rights because they have been labeled “mentally unstable” – and several experts say the pool no doubt includes many people who are perfectly sane.

There are now around 34,500 names in the Empire State’s database of people considered too mentally ill to own weapons, The New York Times reported.

“That seems extraordinarily high to me,” mental health expert Sam Tsemberis told The Times. “Assumed dangerousness is a far cry from actual dangerousness.”

Tsemberis is a formerly director of New York City’s program for involuntary hospitalization of seriously mentally ill people, and now works with NYC’s mentally ill homeless population.

The database was created as part of New York State’s Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act or SAFE Act of 2013, one of the nation’s most restrictive gun control laws. A person in the database can be stripped of their permit to own a gun or denied such a permit.

The database is maintained by New York State’s Division of Mental Illness. The Times was able to obtain figures about the database through a Freedom of Information request.

Information about individuals in the database is kept secret, which makes it impossible to verify whether people are truly mentally ill.

How Non-Dangerous People Could End Up in Database

Many mental health experts oppose the database because they fear it will keep people from seeking psychological or psychiatric treatment. Others like Tsemberis believe that the number of names in the database is too high because most mentally ill people are not violent.

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“The threshold for reporting [a person] is so low that it essentially advertises that psychiatrists are mandatory reporters for anybody who expresses any kind of dangerousness,” Dr. Mark J. Russ, the director of acute care psychologically at the Zucker Hillside Hospital in Queens, said of the SAFE Act. Russ is concerned that people who are not dangerous will end up in the database.

Around 500 people a week are being added to the database, according to The Times.

How the Database Works

One big problem with the database: Any doctor, nurse, psychologist or social worker (who does not have to be a trained mental health professional) can nominate someone for inclusion. Names are forwarded to county officials, and if they agree with the nomination, they put the name into the database. County officials, though, are overwhelmed.

“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,” The Times reported.

Psychologist Dr. Kenneth M. Glatt, who also works as commissioner of mental hygiene for Duchess County, New York, acknowledged he places people in the database without even seeing them or evaluating their condition. He tried to justify his actions by saying he occasionally reads the paperwork about the person.

“I am not going to second guess,” Glatt said. “I don’t see the patient. I don’t know the patient.”

Nor does the database actually keep mentally ill people from getting guns. It simply stops them from getting a permit to own a handgun. In most of New York State, no permit is needed to buy a rifle or shotgun.

Like California’s new law, the New York law allows authorities to confiscate guns from those declared mentally ill. California Governor Jerry Brown signed his state’s bill, AB 1014, into law in September.

Do you believe state laws should bar mentally ill people from acquiring guns? Leave your reply in the section below:

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  1. Without a doubt. How sane is it to whine about having reasonable restrictions on gun ownership and use. Claiming you are protecting your right. While at the same time allowing your most important right, a fair and equal vote for how the country is run, to be taken away by the extreme Right and many of the 1%. Corporations are people? Suppression of the votes of poor people? Failure to reform campaign financing to stop the election from being bought?

  2. Thank You God for giving me the good judgment and common sense to leave that communist rat hole 12 years ago. God Bless Texas

  3. It is proper to revoke the rights of an individual to bear arms. The revocation should be a in conjunction with a plea of “innocent because of insanity” in a criminal court in a violent crime. Ditto for the revocation (or suspension) of the right to bear arms in the case of those convicted of a violent crime. Now, just imagine that a candidate in one political party states that their opponent “is crazy” to believe one way on a particular issue – confiscation, end of story — after all, a respected public figure said so-and-so is crazy, right

    • Yeah well what gives lay people the right to judge some one as insane? Just because you say it is? If that’s the case I believe you are insane therefore all your rights are stripped. Your mistake about rights and privileges are clouded. Do you have the right to drive? If so how can a judge revoke said right? He can’t if it is a right. Now if it is a privilege he can. So now reread the second amendment and see where it states “THE RIGHTS OF THE PEOPLE SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED”. There is that darn word again. Rights. That sticks in the craw of anti gunners like you because we know you could care less about anybody on the front side of your nose and only care about the person hiding like a coward behind it. Sounding all politically correct and all. I an see how your judgement could be clouded though. You don’t have years of medical training and years of practice to cloud your judgement.

  4. out of the 19.5million residents, 35,000 (1.79%) can’t get a permit
    did i mention 4.2%of adults have a serious mental illness? that’s about 1 in 24.
    is 35,000 still a small number?

  5. LOL…Yea, we only want to help you…Now please get in line for your ebola injection.

    • Look to our healthcare system: the doc asks at every visit if I am depressed. NO I am not.

      If you have ever been prescribed antidepressives or something to help you SLEEP you are on the list. Vets suffering with PTSD you too.

      So Obamacare is part of the grand scheme to render us impotent.

  6. To be confiscated, there should be a legal judgement stating that mental issues are a fact. Our rights to bear arms are just that according to the 2nd amendment. This is not a privilege that we have to earn as American citizens. As the world changes, “We the People” must rise up and demand our rights be met. We must also protect our rights to keep and bear arms that are not registered on any governmental list. After all, that’s what the 2nd amendment was written for.

  7. I sold all my firearms to a guy named Allen Sharpton. Got a bill of sale and everything. they guy never lied to me before.

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