Protein Wisdom is reporting
that Obama has issued executive actions on gun control related to mental illness and the background check system. I do not give Obama the benefit of the doubt on this issue; it's not a question of whether he's going to try to screw us with this, but rather, how
One action "clarifies" (this probably means expands
) who is considered a prohibited person for reasons of mental health:
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 "committed to a mental institution" 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 system's reliability and effectiveness.
So, yes, expanding the definition of who qualifies appears to be the order of the day. It's still limited to "involuntary", but if the new definition includes outpatient as well as inpatient, you could be potentially looking at something so broad it includes people with court-ordered anger management classes or medication. This is potentially very dangerous, depending on how broadly it is interpreted, particularly with respect to veterans whose health care is provided by government.
The other makes the background check system an exception to HIPAA privacy rules:
Some states have also said that the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (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'm not convinced that the HIPAA privacy rules were much more than an excuse for a lot of anti-gun states to avoid submitting anything to the federal system. However, the combination of these two proposed changes suggests that Obama sees mental health as his window to target gun rights. He doesn't need to make changes to existing law; all he has to do is expand existing definitions and convince the blue states currently not reporting their involuntary commitments to report not only their involuntary commitments, but also whatever else he can convince a bureaucrat is enough to qualify for a firearms disability.