Some states have reported that certain barriers under current law make it difficult for them to identify and submit appropriate information to the federal background check system regarding individuals prohibited under federal law from having a gun for mental health reasons. Today, DOJ and HHS are taking steps that will help address these barriers.
*Some states have noted that the terminology used by federal law to prohibit people from purchasing a firearm for certain mental health reasons is ambiguous. Today, DOJ is issuing a proposed rule to make several clarifications. For example, DOJ is proposing to clarify that the statutory term â€ścommitted to a mental institutionâ€ť includes involuntary inpatient as well as outpatient commitments. In addition to providing general guidance on federal law, these clarifications will help states determine what information should be made accessible to the federal background check system, which will, in turn, strengthen the systemâ€™s reliability and effectiveness.
*Some states have also said that the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Actâ€™s (HIPAA) privacy provisions may be preventing them from making relevant information available to the background check system regarding individuals prohibited from purchasing a firearm for mental health reasons. In April 2013, HHS began to identify the scope and extent of the problem, and based on public comments is now issuing a proposed rule to eliminate this barrier by giving certain HIPAA covered entities an express permission to submit to the background check system the limited information necessary to help keep guns out of potentially dangerous hands. The proposed rule will not change the fact that seeking help for mental health problems or getting treatment does not make someone legally prohibited from having a firearm. Furthermore, nothing in the proposed rule would require reporting on general mental health visits or other routine mental health care, or would exempt providers solely performing these treatment services from existing privacy rules.
I don’t see anything egregious in this. Maybe you do?
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