Mental-Health Officials Clash on N.Y. Gun Law Reporting

Photo Credit: Seth Wenig AP

Psychiatrists, county officials and law enforcement are questioning a portion of New York’s new gun-control law that requires them to take steps that could lead to guns being seized from potentially dangerous people.

Since mid-March, New York’s Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act has required mental health professionals to report when a patient is a potential danger to himself or others. A county receives the information, decides whether to approve it, and if so sends it to the state for entry into a database. Local law enforcement officials then must suspend or revoke any gun licenses and remove a gun owner’s firearms.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has touted the reporting requirements outlined in the law, saying they will keep guns out of the hands of the dangerously mentally ill and prevent mass shootings that have claimed more than 900 victims in the past seven years.

But parties who must participate in the process said the new law was hastily designed and broadly written.

“When someone drops a whole new set of rules out of the sky, … you trip up on a lot of stuff,” said Eric Caine, psychiatry department chairman at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

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