Gun law may decrease trust in therapy

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — New provisions now in place after the passage of the NY Safe Act are designed to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous mental health patients.

Governor Andrew Cuomo spoke at a ceremonial signing of the bill in Rochester on Wednesday and he made it clear his intentions, stating, "Mentally ill people should not have access to guns."

But there are now concerns this hamper the trust factor between therapist and patient. Mental health professionals are now required to report when there's reason to believe a patient is likely to cause serious harm to themselves or others.

MORE | See all the provisions of the new law, as well as which local lawmakers voted for it

The information will be cross-checked against a gun registration database. If the patient possesses a gun, the license will be suspended and the firearm removed from the person.

"People who are mentally ill, who are a danger to themselves or to others, there's now a system for the first time to make sure that if they have guns and they're a danger they don't have access to the guns," Cuomo explained.

State Senator Michael Ranzenhofer voted against the gun control legislation. However, he believes the mental health reporting requirement is one of the good parts of the bill.

Sen. Ranzenhofer said, "What's in this bill is new from what was in prior laws. There is now a reporting requirement in the hopes that that's going to solve part of the problem."

Mental health therapist Barry Chapman says on some level the enhanced reporting could muddy the waters when it comes to the kind of information patients provide.

"As it is now, trust is difficult to get sometimes. To work towards," Chapman said. "So I think it could on some level cause people to trust therapists even less when they walk in."

Chapman says therapists are already obligated federally to report information to authorities if patients pose a danger to themselves or others.

"It will be up to those officials who will be keeping track of who has weapons to then make that determination to take the license and take the weapon," Sen. Ranzenhofer said.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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New York (change)

Democrat Andrew Cuomo is Governor of New York.  Two Democrats represent NYS in the U.S. Senate, and NY has 29 representatives in the U.S. House: 21 Democrats and 8 Republicans.
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