A conflict may be emerging between the National Rifle Association (NRA) and several large national medical and mental health associations regarding the expansion of US and state government mental health databases. Medical Daily reported last week that four national medical and mental health associations have sent letters to the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) expressing concern about a proposed rule to increase the flow of mental health records into the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The NICS database holds a vast amount of information about Americans—including people who have no intention of ever buying firearms—to be checked whenever anyone attempts to purchase a gun from a US licensed firearms dealer.
The American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, and the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors are, in sending the letter, expressing direct opposition to the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) multi-year effort to enhance government restrictions of gun ownership and possession by creating a US government mental health database and encouraging the flow of information into that database.
Recently, the NRA lobbied the Florida legislature to pass and governor to sign legislation that increases the flow of mental health records from Florida to the NICS database. The legislation also expands the prohibition on Floridians purchasing guns or qualifying for concealed carry permits to include not just those involuntarily committed by courts to mental institutions, but also those who at one time voluntarily sought mental treatment after being threatened with involuntary commitment. Florida Governor Rick Scott signed that bill into law on June 28.
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