5 reasons why the SAFE Act’s mental health gun-ban list is a disaster

New evidence that the New York SAFE Act is an existential threat to the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners keeps surfacing. The latest example is a recent article in the New York Times which details all the shortcomings of the mental-health reporting aspect of the law that compels doctors, psychologists, nurses and social workers to notify state bureaucrats if someone appears to be a danger to themselves or others and, as a result, should be added to a database that would preclude them from obtaining a handgun permit or, if they currently own a handgun, would require law enforcement to seize the individual’s firearm.

As of right now, there are 34,500 names in the gun ban database. Many argue that this number is too high, that non-threatening gun owners are currently being added to the list. For quick reference, here are five reasons why it’s a disaster:

1. Defining “Dangerous”

According to the SAFE Act mental health professionals must turn over to state authorities the names of any patient “likely to engage in conduct that would result in serious harm to self or others.”

Yes, the intent of the law is good, right? We don’t want dangerous individuals to have access to firearms. But suppose one is at his therapist’s office and he is recounting a bad day he had at work. And he says, “You know Doctor, I was so angry that I felt like punching my co-worker right in the face. The guy (co-worker) was being a real turd. If he bothers me again, I might just punch him. I swear.”

Does this individual deserve to lose his Second Amendment rights because he was venting his frustration to his psychologist?

Under the letter of the law, one could argue that a mental health professional would be justified in submitting paperwork to have the man added to the gun ban list. But is that individual really dangerous is the question? Or is he just frustrated. As Sam Tsemberis, a former director of New York City’s involuntary hospitalization program for homeless and dangerous people, now the chief executive of Pathways to Housing, told the Times, “Assumed dangerousness is a far cry from actual dangerousness.”

It’s not easy to make that call nor should it be. And that’s why federal law mandates that one must be involuntarily committed or adjudicated mentally defective — as in, by a judge order — before one loses one’s 2A rights. But New York state is now forcing mental health professionals to make snap judgments that sacrifice personal liberty and freedom in the name of “public safety.”

2. Lack of due diligence

Before one is deprived of one’s constitutional rights, the state better be sure that it’s the right thing to do. But the review process the SAFE Act sets up for determining whether one is a threat is thoroughly deficient in that it creates a system where state officials basically rubber stamp submissions for the gun-ban list without doing their own independent investigation to determine whether the person is actually dangerous.

As Dr. Kenneth M. Glatt, a psychologist, who is the commissioner of mental hygiene for Dutchess County, told the Times, “Every so often I read one [submission] just to be sure, I am not going to second guess. I don’t see the patient. I don’t know the patient.”

In other words, state bureaucrats don’t even read the reports.  Instead, they solely rely on the opinion of the counselor or social worker or physician without doing any serious follow up, i.e. contacting and interviewing the patient to make an independent determination if the patient is a credible threat.

“The threshold for reporting is so low that it essentially advertises that psychiatrists are mandatory reporters for anybody who expresses any kind of dangerousness,” said Dr. Mark J. Russ, director of acute care psychiatry at Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, Queens, which has filed many reports to the state.

3. Loopholes

The New York Times put it better than I could:

“Despite the breadth of the law, significant loopholes remain. Outside of New York City, permits are not required to buy long guns, so nothing would stop someone in the database from buying a shotgun, for example, after being released from a hospital. Also, it is unclear exactly how the process for confiscating someone’s guns is enforced. And law enforcement officials may not even be aware of all of the guns someone owns.”

Yes, this law is rife with loopholes to the point where even supporters of it have to question its efficacy.

4. Wrongful Confiscation

Yes, bad or dangerous people shouldn’t be allowed to possess firearms. And yes, police should take firearms away from bad and dangerous people. But the way this mental health reporting measure works, police will in some cases be confiscating firearms from innocent individuals.

In fact, it’s already happened. As the Las Vegas Review-Journal noted in an excellent editorial on the matter:

“Back in April, Mr. [David] Lewis, a 35-year-old Amherst resident, was ordered to surrender his weapons to police because he had once been prescribed anti-anxiety medication, which a health care worker considered reportable under the provisions of the SAFE Act. A week later, a state judge ruled Mr. Lewis’ guns had to be returned to him after state police admitted a mistake had been made.

“Mr. Lewis’ ordeal illustrates the injustice inherent in the law’s application. Not only are the Second and 14th Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens being trampled — taking property without due process — but the law further stigmatizes the mentally ill and mental health treatment. Not all mentally ill people are dangerous, and those who would benefit from treatment might think twice if doing so would require them to forfeit their constitutional right to bear arms.”

While proponents of the law will argue that if it takes even one gun away from a bad guy then it’s worth it, I would argue the opposite, that if it even disarms one good guy than it is totally not worth it.

Watch video to learn more about Lewis’s story.

5. Legislation breeds more legislation

The SAFE Act is woefully misguided on all fronts. Its expanded ban on so-called ‘assault weapons,’ its retroactive ban on magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition and its mental health arm all do absolutely nothing to keep bad guys from getting firearms. It will not impact crime rates. It will not save lives. This is apparent to any reasonable person.

Yet, in the not too distant future state lawmakers will likely argue that the SAFE Act is not working because “It didn’t go far enough, therefore more laws are needed, such as universal gun registration or long gun permits, to fix the loopholes in the current SAFE Act” which is tantamount to doubling down on a failed idea: the notion that criminals follow the law, therefore the more laws that exist on the books, the more criminals will be held in check and unable to obtain firearms. It’s insanity really, doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

Sadly, this is the slippery slope of the gun-control agenda. They want us to keep sacrificing our freedom, just a little more, a little more, a little more… until everyone’s unfit to own a firearm.

About the author: S.H. Blannelberry is the News Editor of GunsAmerica.

{ 23 comments… add one }
  • Alicia Noonan April 4, 2018, 6:21 pm

    My story- which I have submitted to Governor Cuomo and our Sherrif.

    Dear Sheriff Anderson,
    I’m not sure where to turn to at this point to fix the damage I have done.
    On March 9, my daughter told my husband (Sean Noonan) that she’d been keeping an awful secret-That I had had an affair with my son’s baseball coach. That night, my husband confronted me and I admitted to it. I left the house that night hysterical and my mom and brother came to pick me up at my friends house. My husband, who has high blood pressure, was extremely upset and shocked and passed out after I left-his Sister was here and called 911.
    I left My kids home with him and stayed at my moms house that weekend to give him space. On Sunday the 11th, I saw him post something sbout how he would miss me. I then called the house and he was crying on the phone and then hung up on me. I got very worried that he may pass out again. I didn’t know if the children were around. I have a panic and anxiety disorder and it makes me always think the worst (I am on medication for this). As my mind started to go crazy on me, I called 911 for a welfare check. I didn’t call my husbands family because I honestly didn’t think they would answer my call. I then got in the car with my mom and we drove Home to my house. As we were getting there,my brother called to say he was at my house with my sister in laws, that the ambulance was coming to get my husband checked and maybe I should wait to come over as my husband was still, understandably,very upset with me. I waited, went to my house to see my kids, get food for the house and then clean up a bit. When I left, my husband was being taken home by a friend. Again, I left so as not to further upset him.
    Two days later, we talked and he asked if I would want to stay home. I did and I have been back home since. I am in individual counciling and we have started marriage counseling as I very much want my husband and family back. I caused a lot of damage to my family and I am working to fix this. On March 20, 2 deputies (Mark Catuzza and David Michitschshowed up at our door to revoke my husbands pistol permit and retrieve his guns. I didn’t know what was happening and my husband got very upset – he said his father was in possession of his guns. I had no idea that the guns were not at home. My husband works for US Customs and we have always had guns here. I sat here while my husband asked why they were doing this. He has never threatened me, my kids, the man I had an affair with (who owns a business in Poughkeepsie), anyone. If I had thought he was a threat, I never would have left my kids at home while I went to my moms nor would have I come home voluntarily. The deputies said that the doctor had checked something on the release from the hospital and because of the NY State Safe Act, they had to do this. My husband said that he was only at the hospital to check on his blood pressure situation because of the past episode. He went willingly to the hospital, he was kept company the whole time by some friends of his and during the visit, was questioned by a therapist. He was let go the same day. If he had been a threat to anyone, I believe he should have been kept there. He was not and came home with no incident. So why, 10 days later, the sudden urgency to take his guns? My husband has been in law enforcement for over 30 years and I am in the middle of a disability dispute so am not working. Taking my husbands guns and permit could potentially put his career at risk. If he loses his job, he loses his retirement, income. I have no income now. How would we manage with two kids? One going to college next year. So, yes, when confronted by the deputies, he was upset. This was all an after affect of my affair. One of the sheriffs said “calm down. Do you talk to people at your job like this?” Well, yes. He was upset. His life had just been torn apart by me. Who wouldn’t be upset? He told me to go outside. I did and sat in the car. He did eventually calm down and talked to the deputies. He never threatened to harm them or me that day. He was angry and upset for good reason. He was being punished for something I did. The deputies said they would go to get the guns at my father in laws and gave my husband a court date to appear to fight to get his permit and guns back. They called my father in law (who is a retired Federal Officer) and told him they’d get the guns the next day. Then they said they were busy that day and that they’d have to wait until the next week. Well, yesterday (April 3) they finally got the guns. If my husband was such a threat, why wait all this time? Nothing made sense. Who was my husband a threat to? If he was such a threat to himself or others, shouldn’t the hospital have kept him and shouldn’t the guns have been taken right away?! Not 10 days later? Actually, it was longer, since they were just physically removed yesterday.
    Now, my husband had to hire a lawyer and is spending thousands of dollars to fight to get his property Back. We went to court – myself, my kids, and two of the gentlemen that were with my husband at the hospital. The lawyer met briefly with the assistant DA and asked to come back in a month. I’m not sure of the legal terms but I believe it was due to the fact that the Assistant DA was going to have the complaint withdrawn as there was no actual reason to have revoked the permit in the first place.
    The lawyer asked us to get the medical records and there were a lot of discrepancies in it. He was cooperative/he was uncooperative. He arrived by private vehicle/ he arrived by ambulance, etc.
    It stated he was “released to the community” upon the end of the interview.
    We have a new court date set for May1. Until then, we live with the stress of what happens if….for something I admittedly caused.
    Today we were getting ready to go to our marriage counselor and got a knock on our door. It was 2 men from my husbands job and the 2 deputies that were here a few weeks ago. The Customs men were here to take my husbands credentials since he is out of work awaiting surgery due to a line of injury accident (he has been out of work on workers comp since last February and was not paid for over a year causing us to go on social services. He has had to battle Customs to get the back and neck surgery caused when he was hit by a car on the job).
    They stated that this was typical procedure when someone is out on workers comp. However, it seems awfully coincidental that it coincides with the release of a Dutchess County field intelligence bulletin dated 3/27. Which states that my husband is a threat and to use care when approaching him. What?!!! My husband turned in his work gun in December and was not asked for his credentials then!
    If it was just a coincidence, why were the Sherrifs here?
    I am so confused and upset with how this is all being handled. I had an affair a year ago and all I’ve bern trying to do now is try to fix my family and my marriage. My husband has been working with me. It seems that every time I feel we may be getting a little bit ahead in our reconciliation, another road block gets thrown our way. And I’m scared-not for my safety but for our future. We could lose everything if my husband loses his job.
    I am desperate to fix this and I don’t know how. Just the affair would have been damage enough but I feel that my husband has been dragged through the gutter for something that wasn’t his fault.
    I’m sorry for writing such a long email but since you are at the top of Department, I felt I needed to reach out. I don’t know what else to do to. My husband has done everything right. He is being punished for something he didn’t do. The Safe Act is supposed to prevent people who are unstable to have access to guns. My husband has had no history of violence or anything like it. Why is he (and in turn possibly my little family) being punished for my infidelity?
    Thank you so much for reading. Any suggestions as to what I can do would be so greatly appreciated.

    Alicia Noonan
    1515 Route 343
    Dover Plains

  • BRASS January 4, 2015, 12:21 am

    In the first item he may not deserve to lose his 2d Amend rights for venting his frustrations but he ought to get his ass kicked for being so stupid. If you live in NY and you are chained there, that’s strike one. If see a shrink for less than major problems that’s strike two. If your not really an irresponsible violent threat to society and you tell your shrink you might just commit assault and battery for no good reason, that’s strike three, bend over, Dumb Ass.

  • mtman2 January 3, 2015, 7:34 pm

    One of the problems is the hotheads among us that send threatening messages to “scare” politicians by threatening their lives by shooting them. Imagine just how many Senator Schumer etc have gotten in their life of “public-service”.
    This has helped no one and is a major reason for the city-bound politicos to embrace “gun-control” as necessary because of as they see it “gun-nuts” that are unhinged. When you hear some ner’ do well inadvertantly run his flap about trying to scare someone by threat, climb right on’em. Of course 99.9999999% are just talk but an implied threat is taken serious and noted.

    Remember when schools evacuated and shut down for the day because of a bomb threat? As kids time out seemed great at the time. But all those threats had to be followed up and action protocol followed. That was all disruptive and costly to everyone. It not only helped no one but tied up hundreds of people + set whole curriculum’s back; this is similar + not cool ~!

  • Petru Sova January 3, 2015, 6:02 pm

    The Safe Act was designed not to stop crime but to slowly eliminate gun ownership period. As in most foreign countries making it extremely difficult and expensive to acquire, own or keep a gun is the intent of the law except of course for the people in power who have easy access to any weapon they want. Did you know under the 1968 Metzanbaum gun ban that he exempted himself and all Congressmen from it. They can buy full auto weapons with no permit whatsoever or carry guns whenever and wherever they want. Metzembaum copied verbatim the gun ban laws and exceptions for the ruling elite that most dictatorships have.

    • mtman2 January 3, 2015, 7:47 pm

      The Globalist World Banker cabal use both the Democrats against us internally and communism set up as adversarial opponents.
      The RINO’s have been trained to aid albeit and go along to keep real Americanism from spreading; like the TEA Party Patriot movement. It’s a total rain on their Globalist campaign parade. So let’s just keep pushing and growing and really mak’em sweat ~!

  • phil box January 3, 2015, 4:19 pm

    why do those who are really unfit for anything think governing is their calling? let all the citizens decide who remains in office by
    imposing sanctions on those unfit for office regardless of where the citizen lives and were the “politician” lives.
    for example if i do not think someone in nyc is fit then i can remove him even though i am in ohio. then maybe the politicians will get off their high horse and act like real human beings and not puppets for fat cat demigods.

  • Jim January 3, 2015, 1:48 pm

    So I clicked on the Sig ad at the bottom of the page and it says I am not authorized. Whats up with that?

    • Dave Higginbotham January 3, 2015, 2:31 pm

      Weird. We’ll check it out.

  • ReasonableVoice January 3, 2015, 12:28 pm

    The SAFE Act, et al. – – – facially unconstitutional, being repugnant to the Fourteenth Amendment.

    A mental status is a “status” not “conduct”.
    Robinson v. California, 370 U.S. 660 (1962) declared it to be repugnant to the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution to
    provide for guilt based upon a “status”.

  • Glenn November 6, 2014, 1:49 pm

    The people who need to be put on a list are the politicians who want to put us on lists. Where do the number of lists stop? Can they, disregarding the U.S. Constitution, create as many lists as they want to? That is insane. Oh! What did I just discover? The politicians who want all this are insane!! My recommendation to our country is to ask questions of potential politicians. Like; 1. Do you understand and support the U. S. Constitution? 2. Do you respect my freedoms and my liberty to conduct my life the as I please within the known law? 3. If at any time you disregard the above are you ready to resign and let a sane person take your place? Oh, all people who are aspiring to any political office should have to take a written test. kinda like a drivers test if you want a license, to prove they know what our Constitution says. If they flunk they are disqualified. Until this country heads in another direction just keep your guns clean and oiled and a good supply of ammunition. By the way, if things are banned in your state go to another one nearby to do your business. The overlords will never know.

  • Tom November 4, 2014, 7:53 pm

    I believe most combat vets have some symptoms of PTSD. that doesn’t mean we’re dangerous to society. We may be just hyper-vigilant or have survivor guilt because we returned when others didn’t. This does mean we can’t control our actions. It means that it sometimes affects our daily life. We served our country honorably, don’t slap us in the face for serving when others wouldn’t go!

    • Ed January 3, 2015, 8:42 am

      Very well put. veterans are being stigmatized for serving our country. Did Cuomo serve?? The safe act makes no sense whatsoever.

  • grifhunter November 3, 2014, 10:08 pm

    How many depressed, anxious or otherwise emotionally troubled people will refrain from seeking the help they need because of the risk of being put on a database or getting a scarlet letter designation as “dangerous”. This determination can be made by a nurse practitioner, social worker or psychologist; if you have ever spent much time around these professions you’d know that they as a rule are anti’s and predisposed to disarm everyone. And a lot are nuts themselves.

    So the State of NY wants curable, treatable individuals to avoid seeking help. Smart.

  • Mike Torgalski November 3, 2014, 8:16 pm

    They have all these health care professionals brainwashed. I recently went for a physical and the first two things they asked me was :1-Am I feeling overwhelmed and :2-doI own any firearms. I told her no and none of her business but you can see where they are leading you. A nurse practitioner has no right to ask these questions at a general physical nor the background to make a determination, yet they have the ability to impact your 2nd Ammendment rights.Government giving too much potential power to uninformed liberals

    • Ronald McDonald January 3, 2015, 6:39 pm

      These questions are required under HIPAA, I think. I am asked these two questions, first thing, when I go to see my FP MD.

      The only thing overwhelming with these two questions is the gall you had to try to invade my privacy by asking them.

  • Bob November 3, 2014, 5:55 pm

    Despite the fact that the SAFE act is asinine, tries to supersede federal law, and no burden of proof of mental state is required before, as mentioned, the requests are rubber stamped, the people who will be hurt the most by this stupidity are the one’s who may at some point in their life need counseling, but not seek it, for fear they will be seen as unstable and “put on a list” which will, in the long run, only compound their problem turning something that could be resolved in counseling sessions into a life long torment not only for the person who needs counseling but for his/her immediate family and friends as well.
    I have the greatest respect for the medical community they have come a long way from the 50’s and 60’s when frontal lobotomy’s and dangerous anti psychotic drugs were the norm for treating issues but when the government, be it state, city, or federal, threatens a doctor’s practice for “not reporting” the doctor is probably want to know how far to bend over and the patient is the looser.
    So it looks like in NYC you are damned if you get the help you need and damned if you don’t get the help you need.

    • King Henri, Grand Duke of Luxeonbourger McDonalds down on the water front January 3, 2015, 6:34 pm

      This would make it well nigh impossible for me to trust anyone who can make this report–on a professional or personal level. Get them pissed off and they’ll go after your firearms.

      That the law will be perceived to reduce demand for mental health services will be trumpeted by the state as a good thing. They can stop funding whatever care they now provide and spend it on settling the lawsuit that will inevitably filed against them by the next person one of their cops shoots and kills in the middle of the street and lets lie there for 6 hours.

  • Larry November 3, 2014, 2:52 pm

    It’s NOT gun control. It’s people control! Just like when Hitler disarmed the German populace, our current leftist politicians would love nothing more than to disarm the American people. Don’t let them do it, America!

  • S. Messinger November 3, 2014, 2:30 pm

    The part of the “Safe Act” that impacts me the most is the ban on purchasing ammunition on line. The data base that the State Police is working on to keep track of ammunition purchases in general will never work. If these idiot politicians want to kill two birds with one stone, they could impose a state sales tax on all on line ammunition purchases and have a record of such purchases. Governor Cuomo is still wetting himself of how he was able to get the “Safe Act” passed in less than twenty four hours. You do not know how safe this makes me feel.

    • King Henri, Grand Duke of Luna IV January 3, 2015, 6:26 pm

      If you continue to talk like that, some doctor/nurse/etc will think you are dangerous (I mean anyone wanting to buy ammunition online and complain about how difficult it is to do, must be dangerous don’t you think? /sarcasm) and report you.

      Amazing how Orwellian this is. Devastating in how much more Orwellian it will become. How can a master’s level therapist decide if someone is too dangerous to own a gun? Do they teach a class, “Creating a basis for reporting people who you don’t like, disagree with you or scare as too dangerous to own firearms. 101” “Using your state issued and very limited in scope license to push your anti-gun agenda on your patients and others. 102

  • listen to this November 3, 2014, 2:04 pm

    We need a psychotic drug ban instead. I just wish I could ask the drug dependent mass shooters themselves since the investigative authorities are to stupid to do so.

  • Bisley November 3, 2014, 1:36 pm

    This is nothing more than an extension of the same sort of policies that led to the virtual elimination of guns in Britain and Australia. Anytime they can arbitrarily exclude any particular type of gun, ammunition, magazine, class of people, or whatever–or add another tax, permit, license, storage, or training requirement, mandatory government inspection, etc. (anything that increases the hassle, expense, or liability of gun ownership), they are incrementally reducing the number of guns that can be owned, and the number of people who will choose to, or be permitted to own them. If, over a long period of time, the number of gun owners can be reduced to a point where they are no longer a real political force and government has a record of where most guns are, then they will confiscate whatever is left.

  • wolfpack-bravo November 3, 2014, 11:48 am

    In the politicians eyes, everyone is unfit to own their own firearms. The only ones “worthy” are those in power who wish to remain in power. Granted, I’m sure not every politician feels this way but one must wonder about how the majority of them would feel if a major event happens in the U.S.

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