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    Albany Police Officers Union denounces “shameful” NY gun law

    Albany Police Officers Union denounces “shameful” NY gun law

    Blame NYS not NRA for failure of federal gun legislation

    If you want to understand why any new federal gun legislation will fail, as it did yesterday, don’t look at the NRA.

    Certainly the NRA plays its advocacy role.

    But what motivates grassroots opposition is the belief that government always will overreach, and that any expanded legislation necessarily will be used as a subterfuge to remove guns from the possession of law-abiding citizens.

    If there were any doubt about ulterior motives, that doubt was disabused when New York rushed to be the first state to pass post-Newtown gun legislation, with the acronym the SAFE Act.

    As we discussed before, the SAFE Act had little to do with keeping guns out of the hands of criminals.  Rather, it imposed a set of irrational and arbitrary standards governing lawful possession of guns and ammunition magazines.

    Most prominently, the law imposed a 7-round magazine limit for new handgun and magazine purchases  That number almost certainly was unconstitutional because it was a de facto ban on a wide range of common handguns for which there were no 7-round magazines.  Such a backdoor handgun ban confirmed the fears of overreach.

    Not surprisingly, that 7-round magazine limit was eliminated because it was unworkable.  In its place was a more common 10-round magazine limit, but the 10-round magazine only can be lawfully loaded with 7-bullets.  Such arbitrary limits do not instill confidence that the overreach is over.

    Yet the controversy did not end with the elimination of the 7-round magazine limit.  There have been reports that NY State officials are using mental health and prescription records to confiscate guns even from persons who pose no obvious threat.

    The fear of government overreach in NY State is palpable.  Virtually all upstate counties have passed resolutions against the SAFE Act.

    Even the Police Officers Union in Albany, the state capital, has come out against the law in a scathing letter issued April 15 (embedded at the bottom of this post)(h/t Rusty Weiss via Tom Bauerle) addressed to NY political leaders:

    The Albany Police Officers Union condemns and opposes the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act (the “SAFE Act”). Substantively, we believe that it violates fundamental constitutional rights, that it is unduly and purposely burdensome on law-abiding citizens, and that it will not deter criminals or mentally ill individuals from plotting and carrying out bloodshed and violence. Procedurally, we believe that the way in which the bill was rammed into law via an unjustified and expedient “message of necessity”, which circumvented the right and the ability of the citizens of this State to voice their concerns about the bill and have them addressed, is an outrage. This flawed law, and the way in which it was rushed and passed, shows the apparent contempt that those who govern have for the governed, and calls into question whether we truly have a representational government. Morally, we believe that this law is about ideology and politics and not about making anyone any safer. We respectfully demand that you do the right thing and repeal the law….

    We as police officers are on the front lines of public safety. Respectfully, none of you are. We see, feel, work, and live with the effects of gun violence in ways that you do not. We believe that you see gun violence as a means to move your agenda and your ambitions forward. You know that the SAFE Act will not work in the way
    that you pretend it will. You know that this shameful SAFE Act was about ideology and politics and not about making anyone safer.

    When even a Police Officers Union denounces a gun control law, you know there is widespread anxiety about government overreach.

    Similarly overbroad efforts in California and elsewhere only stoked concerns that government does not know when to stop.  When gun laws are so complicated and burdensome, law-abiding citizens are at risk of becoming unwitting criminals.

    Knowing that the draconian laws will be applied to ordinary citizens but not to well-connected celebrities like David Gregory increases the concerns.

    That fear of overreach was palpable yesterday, and it remains.

    Abany _NY_ Police Union Letter Opposing SAFE Act


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    Henry Hawkins | April 18, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    A word about involuntary commitments as a marker for denial of gun rights….

    For 12 yrs I worked the night shift at a County-run diversion ER, to which people experiencing emergencies due to substance abuse or mental illnesses were referred from local medical ERs. (A brief description of invol process, particular to NC: Somebody – family, employer, police, doctor, etc – believes someone is an imminent threat to self/others due to psych problems. They go to local magistrate and pitch concerns. Magistrate issues pick up order. Local police pick up person, take them to psych unit like ours for evaluation and possible involuntary commitment to psych hospital).

    Two concerns about using a previous invol commitment to deny gun rights:

    1. Most common abuse of invol process was instigated by the patient his/herself – the homeless guy tired of outdoor life in winter refusing to back off claims of suicidality forcing someone to file papers only out of liability concerns (many chronic homeless are this system-wise and worse, knowing that if they stick to their claim of being suicidal they’ll get admitted somewhere because nobody in the chain will risk being liable if they call his bluff). A lesser version was the druggie desperate to get off the street because some dealer was after him. This is so common a problem it has a DSM psych diagnosis of its own: V65.2 Malingering. But hey, if some homeless manipulator or druggie wants to forfeit his/her gun ownership rights by engineering his/her own false involuntary commitment, I’m pretty sure that’s fine by me. However….

    B. A significant number of the bogus involuntary commitments we saw were put on innocent people without actual psych issues – the person filing the commitment papers was sticking it to someone else for reasons other than psychiatric problems, often part of marital/divorce strife. One woman, a psych nurse who knew the system well, had her husband picked up on false suicide claims knowing he’d be released but that the process would take many hours – she’d had a crew with a truck standing by and when he finally got back home, she’d cleaned out their house to announce their separation, of which he’d had no idea before being picked up.

    Another common false commitment was parents making up psych symptoms to get an unruly but otherwise mentally healthy teen locked up. One family petitioned their 16 yr old who refused to go on vacation with them, they were afraid to leave him home alone, but they wouldn’t be denied their vacation. They pulled up in a freakin’ Winnebago, all packed, in a hurry to get him committed so they could go on vacation while he was ‘safe’ in the hospital.

    Another family talked a magistrate into invol papers with false claims of their son’s suicidal threats, but revealed during collateral interviews that their real issue was their anger that he refused to go to college like they wanted, wanted to be a tattoo artist instead.

    We saw all sorts of bizarre abuses of the invol system like these examples, perpetrated on innocent people with no psych issues whose only ‘crime’ was to have been at contretemps with the petitioner.

    Best guess at the frequency of bogus invol claims would be about one in ten.

    By new style gun regulations, these innocent people would be denied gun rights.

    Which supercedes, state gun regs or federal HIPAA laws on confidentiality? State gun regs or secrecy of juvenile records?

    I agree that one productive path to effective gun safety is restricting the truly mentally ill from gun ownership, but that would be exceedingly difficult to achieve – neither sociopaths nor psychopaths are particularly concerned with obeying the law. Then we recall that the Newtown shooter did fail a background check and was denied a weapons purchase permit – so he murdered his mother and stole hers.

    Got that one covered, gun grabbers?

      Ragspierre in reply to Henry Hawkins. | April 18, 2013 at 6:55 pm

      “Which supercedes, state gun regs or federal HIPAA laws on confidentiality? State gun regs or secrecy of juvenile records?”

      A field of legal theory called “conflict of laws”, which as you multiply laws and regulations becomes a real mess.

      ONE reason I understand that the background check system lacks “compliance” in terms of mental health data is that several state legal authorities have issued opinions that “compliance” would violate HIPAA, and that HIPAA is controlling.

      As I say, a mess…

        Henry Hawkins in reply to Ragspierre. | April 18, 2013 at 8:25 pm

        As a clinician under HIPAA regs, the penalty on me for breaking a client’s confidentiality maxes at a $5,000 fine, 5 years in jail, or both.

        This is anecdotal, may not be true, but as far as I know no one has ever been convicted of such a violation in NC.

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