The Obama administration on Friday proposed two new executive actions to make it easier for states to provide mental health information to the national background check system, wading back into the gun control debate after a months-long hiatus.(HIPAA .. the "Health Insurance and Accountability Act" - ed.)
Vice President Biden's office announced the proposals Friday afternoon. Both pertain to the ability of states to provide information about the mentally ill and those seeking mental health treatment to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
One proposal would formally give permission to states to submit "the limited information necessary to help keep guns out of potentially dangerous hands," without having to worry about the privacy provisions in a law known as HIPAA.
I've said this before, and I'll say it again: there are people in the "Mental Health Care Industry" who are unalterably opposed to the possession of firearms by ANY citizen in this country .. with the exception of police and military.
Yes, I'm very much in favor of identifying nut-jobs who are so confused or despondent that they consider shooting up a shopping mall to be a viable choice.
I'm just not convinced that the people who are responsible for sending this information to the BATF (or whomever) are all that stable, themselves.
Pediatric physicians have been known to quiz children about firearms in the house ... without the permission or even supervision of their parents.
Religious groups have publicly espoused their opposition to the private possession of firearms.
(See, for example, Presbyterian 101 and God's Call)
The point is, there are groups of sincere, caring, committed individuals who, in their professional capacity, have taken it upon themselves to advocate for (or against) social/legal, constitutional issues .. with the very best of intentions.
But how about ... Psychologists?
*(See: Take on Gun Lobby; AAP Firearms Safety [pdf[, and AAP Gun Violence Policy [pdf], and most egregiously Advocate)
[note: "APP" = American Psychological Association]
Reference to an article in Psychologist Today
Any debate regarding gun control in America requires a serious examination of the culture of violence that exists in America, for this is where the real problem lies. It is not in 2nd amendment rights to bear arms or self-defense or crime, although these are issues the pro-gun lobby in the U.S. always hides behind. The real root cause is in the minds of Americans who may feel that a gun gives them a feeling of empowerment, and that they are entitled to have the power over life and death as well as the belief that if they want to they can take a life if they have been wronged (or imagined they have) in some way. After all, they see it glorified in the media every day.
We have no issue with the conclusions, but the problem is with those sincere, caring, committed professionals who have individually concluded that ALL guns are bad, and that NO Americans can be trusted with them. The very mention of ...
... 2nd amendment rights to bear arms or self-defense or crime, although these are issues the pro-gun lobby in the U.S. always hides behind ...... suggests that those Americans who "hide behind" the U.S. constitutions truly have something to "always hide behind", rather than "insist of their constitutional rights". As if it was something shameful, and needful of justification on a personal level .. such as pedophilia. (I wonder if this psychologist discusses his pedophile patients cases as egregiously as he does legal owners of firearms?)
So .. what help can Psychologists offer to both identify potential mass murderers, and predict their behavior?
Here is an APA article from December 12, 2013 which addresses that specific question:
WASHINGTON — There is no single personality[comments highlighted by italics have been emphasized by the editor]
profilethat can reliably predict who will use a gun in a violent act — but individual prediction is not necessary for violence prevention, according to a comprehensive report on gun violence released today by the American Psychological Association.
The report summarizes the psychological research that has helped develop evidence-based programs that can prevent violence through both primary and secondary interventions. Primary prevention programs can reduce risk factors for violence in the general population. Secondary prevention programs can help individuals who are experiencing emotional difficulties or interpersonal conflicts before they escalate into violence.
"In making predictions about the risk for mass shootings, there is no consistent psychological profile or set of warning signs that can be used reliably to identify such individuals in the general population," according to the report, entitled Gun Violence: Prediction, Prevention, and Policy. For this reason, primary violence prevention programs are critical. In addition, at the individual level, a promising approach is the strategy of behavioral threat assessment, which involves identifying and intervening with individuals who have communicated threats of violence or engaged in behavior that indicates
preparationto commit a violent act.
In addition, the vast majority of people suffering from a mental illness are not violent, and despite decades of research, "there is only a moderate ability to identify individuals most likely to commit serious acts of violence," the report notes. When a person does resort to violence, that behavior is typically associated with a confluence of "individual, family, school, peer, community and sociocultural factors that interact over time," and appropriate access to mental health treatment can reduce gun violence, the report says. However, the availability of such mental
health careremains "woefully insufficient," it adds.
Let's review some significant quotes:
- "There is no single personality
profilethat can reliably predict who will use a gun in a violent act ..."
- "In making predictions about the risk for mass shootings, there is no consistent psychological profile or set of warning signs that can be used reliably to identify such individuals in the general population ... "
- "In addition, the vast majority of people suffering from a mental illness are not violent, and despite decades of research, 'there is only a moderate ability to identify individuals most likely to commit serious acts of violence...' "
Yet even though "there is only a moderate ability to identify individuals most likely to commit serious acts of violence ...", the Administration is most likely going to rely on these sincere, committed, caring professionals to determine who among us are likely to be a volatile risk factor for the rest of us.
Even though these sincere, committed, caring professionals admit among themselves that the have not the SLIGHTEST idea who among US are likely to become Mass Murderers.
I don't know about you, but I'm just the slightest bit concerned that these caring, committed professionals might find themselves "under the gun", so to speak, and feel somehow obligated to identify any of their patients who come to them with emotional problems and who have 'confessed' to owning a firearm as ... a "risk to society".
The APA has a Privacy Code, intended to protect their patients. Without this code, their patients could not feel free to discuss their most private thoughts to their psychological care-giver.
Tenent #4" " 4.06 Consultations
When consulting with colleagues, (1) psychologists do not disclose confidential information that reasonably couldAdhering to this and other "privacy code" issues is left up to the attending psychologist. Most professionals would consider this constriction in the context of other ethical tenets, and would be reluctant to disclose personal information unless such information might be critical to the determination of whether the patient is a threat to him/herself, or to another person.
leadto the identification of a client/patient, research participant or other person or organization with whom they have a confidential relationship unless they have obtained the prior consent of the person or organization or the disclosure cannot be avoided, and (2) they disclose information only to the extent necessary to achieve the purposes of the consultation. (See also Standard 4.01, Maintaining Confidentiality.)
However, this is a purely personal decision. If the psychologist is one who thinks that the mere possession of a firearm is *(because of his/her personal bias) in itself evidence of 'danger to him/herself or another person", that caring professional mental health worker may feel .. if not obliged, but at least "free" ... to disclose the information to anyone --- and in doing so, feel free to be to be totally revelatory even though the common layperson may not agree that the patient constitutes a threat to society.
When mental health workers are defined as "the last line of defense", there is a real and present danger that individuals might allow themselves to feel justified in 'outing' one or more of their patients, purely because of their personal opinion about "Gun Rights/Gun Control".
This puts the question squarely on the shoulders of one "caring, committed professional" whose opinion must necessarily be respected by Law Enforcement Officers. The LEOs recognize that they have not the training and the neutral perspective .....
.... but do the psychologists?
We submit that just one politically motivated "sincere, caring, committed professional" Mental Health Care Professional has the power to devastate the lives of countless law-abiding citizens for the mere 'crime' of firearm ownership.
Am I the only one who has a problem with that?