False Reports of ‘Mental Health Issues’ Cause Loss of Pistol Permits
In the political world there is much controversy about legislation and legislators. New York just closed their legislative session and there is little to brag about by the governor and the legislators, The governor and leaders obviously disagree, but many issues were ignored and little was done for the taxpayers of the state to improve laws.
Among the casualties were necessary amendments to the SAFE act to correct the huge infringements to the Second Amendment. The biggest one is the lack of due process dealing with the confiscation of property and destroying of gun rights. This column has detailed the violations in the past, but a reminder is this one.
If a person is reported by a social worker, doctor or certain medical personnel that in their opinion. a person is a risk of being a danger to himself or others, they send the report to the Office of Mental Health which starts a chain of events that leads to the suspension of the person’s pistol permit and is reported to the FBI and put on the NICS list to prevent them from legally purchasing a firearm. If they don’t have a pistol permit, they will not know they have been placed on the NICS list unless they attempt to buy a gun. This can be a very unpleasant surprise. They got no warning from the state and no due process along the line.
Some legislators attempted to correct this by writing bills that would require that the person be notified, given a hearing by a judge after the person has been examined by a mental health professional like a psychiatrist or psychologist, before he or she loses four constitutional rights.
The law does not take into consideration that the reports may be false or an error. If the report, true or not, goes to the OMH, the process precedes and the person is damaged. If the person manages to hire competent legal help they can get the person’s pistol permit reinstated and the confiscated guns returned. Yes, all guns the person owns are seized by law enforcement agencies.
However, even with the return of the handguns, the police agencies must keep the rifles and shotguns they confiscated until the damaged citizen hires a lawyer to submit an Article 78 to a Supreme Court Judge for an order to return the property. There is a large fee to submit the Article 78 and the lawyers may charge a fee (average is $2,500 from inquiries) to submit the paper.
This gives credence to the saying that “laws are made by lawyers to benefit lawyers.” Few politicians in the Albany legislature obviously want to rock that boat. Even with the expensive costs to get the return of legally stolen property (since it is done by government, they don’t consider it to be stolen) the person is still damaged by the fact that they can’t legally buy a gun because of the NICS check.
The right thing to do would be for the state to inform the FBI to remove the person from the NICS data base, but that is not done and obviously the state likes the fact that a person is denied that right. The more honest, law abiding people who are denied their constitutional rights pleases Governor Cuomo and the Democrat |Assembly.
On another issue, there is a bill that has passed both houses, but so far, Governor Cuomo has refused to sigh it. It deals with the treatment and housing of children who are patients of the Western New York Children’s Psychiatric Center located in West Seneca. The following statement is from Assemblyman Mickey Kearns office.
“The Western New York Children’s Psychiatric Center opened in West Seneca in 1970. The center takes seriously emotionally disturbed children between the ages of 4 to 18 years old from 19 Western New York counties. Children who are admitted to the facility have lives scarred by trauma such as sexual molestation, physical abuse, bullying, death of a parent, abandonment, neglect and intense family conflicts. Despite the significant volume from these 19 counties the Western New York Children’s Psychiatric Center has the lowest reinstatement or re-institutionalization rate of any facility in New York State.”
Governor Cuomo in his 2017 Budget proposed that the West Seneca Children’s Psychiatric Center be moved to the Buffalo Psychiatric Center, an adult facility and campus. Moving these children into an adult setting would not be therapeutically beneficial and may in fact be detrimental to the psyches of many of these children. The likelihood of re-institutionalization throughout the life course of these children would increase, thus increasing longitudinal costs to New York by moving this facility to an adult psychiatric center as the studies show.
” Governor Cuomo needs to sign this bill and I will be going door to door with post cards to constituents throughout Erie County asking them to sign and send letters and postcards encouraging the Governor to sign and save WNY Children’s Psychiatric Center in West Seneca.”
Assemblyman Kearns is considered to be a maverick by the Democrats, perhaps because he is of the rare breed of legislator who believes in representing his constituents and not bowing down to the dictates of the party leadership. He deserves the support of the people who also care about the treatment of young people with special needs.
Buffalo, New York
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