Citing a pesky little thing known as the Constitution of the United States, the Department of Veterans Affairs has vowed that they will not comply with a provision in the New York SAFE Act that requires doctors to alert authorities to people they deem “likely” to pose a threat.
Via New York World:
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs said it will not comply with New York State’s new law requiring mental health providers to report potentially dangerous individuals to state authorities.
The Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Act, the sweeping gun-control law that goes into effect this week, calls on doctors and therapists to alert county health officials to patients they deem “likely” to engage in conduct that will result in serious self-injury or harm to others.
Once notified of potentially harmful individuals, the state will check their names against a new state database of licensed gun owners. If there’s a match, local law enforcement will be authorized to remove weapons if their owner does not voluntarily surrender them.
Mark Ballesteros, spokesperson for the Department of Veterans Affairs, said that the U.S. Constitution forces his agency to follow federal law, not New York’s new rules.
“Federal laws safeguarding the confidentiality of veterans’ treatment records do not authorize VA mental-health professionals to comply with this NY State law,” he said in an emailed statement.
One glaring issue with this provision lies in the vague definition of the word “likely”. But another more specific problem for the VA as Ballesteros points out, is that compliance with such a measure would cause immense apprehension for those veterans who may already be concerned about being treated for PTSD.