Once again, laws don’t matter to Obama

President Obama clearly believes what Nixon once said, that if the president does it, it’s not illegal.  Now, he’s trying to circumvent the law that helps protect patient privacy in order to restrict millions of Americans from buying firearms.

From Reuters:

President Barack Obama said he wants to see state governments contribute more names of people barred from buying guns to the database, part of a sweeping set of executive actions he announced after a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in December.

The database, called the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, is used by gun dealers to check whether a potential buyer is prohibited from owning a gun.

States are encouraged to report to the database the names of people who are not allowed to buy guns because they have been involuntarily committed to a mental hospital, or have been found to have serious mental illnesses by courts.

Many states do not participate. So the administration is looking at changing a health privacy rule - part of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) - to remove one potential barrier.

Here’s the problem with that.  You see, the law actually prevents people who have been adjudicated from owning firearms.  It says nothing about specific diagnosis.  It requires a court to determine an individual is unfit to own firearms.

President Obama seeks to skirt two laws in one fell swoop.

Unsurprisingly, gun rights advocates have reacted, sending thousands of letters to the Health and Human Services Department.  However, the department also received a number of comments from health professionals.

Health care professionals are sympathetic to Obama’s goal of reducing gun violence, but worry that the privacy rule proposal could discourage people with mental illness from seeking treatment.

“I think it’s a bad idea. It would really put a chill on people getting services,” said Daniel Fisher, who was treated for schizophrenia decades ago, recovered, and became a well-known psychiatrist and mental health advocate in Massachusetts.

“They find it very scary, the idea of a national database that the government will keep,” Fisher said.

They’re probably right.  This is especially true of combat vets who may be struggling with PTSD.  Many of these are dealing with relatively minor cases, and are no threat to anyone, yet may worry their right to own firearms will be infringed as a result of seeking mental health treatment.

However, right now these individuals are protected by HIPAA.  That’s something that Obama apparently just can’t handle.

To many people, these “tweaks” that Obama wants via executive order aren’t a big deal.  However, it’s important to note that a health care diagnosis, particularly with regard to a mental health issue, is really more of an educated guess based on a set of symptoms.  They’re not always right, and there are also levels two the vast majority of conditions.

The current system requires a court to look at the evidence and decide if someone is competent or not.  After all, we’re talking about denying someone’s constitutional rights.  The requirements should be a bit more difficult that a diagnosis. It definitely shouldn’t be easy.

In a court, evidence can be presented that shows that either the diagnosis is wrong, or that the severity isn’t bad enough to deny someone’s rights.  That’s essential since some mental health professionals see the desire to own a firearm as a sign of mental illness.

If that’s not enough, however, there’s more.  HIPAA is a law all about protecting patient privacy.  By trying to force the reporting of mental health diagnosis, the government is increasing the risk of those diagnosis becoming public knowledge.

Currently, hospitals and health provider’s officers restrict who has access to medical records.  This, along with the potential repercussions of violating the law, helps to prevent a diagnosis making it out into the public unless a patient chooses to go public themselves.  What Obama’s tweaks do is open up the pool of people who have access to that diagnosis exponentially.  That increases the risk of something becoming public.

In addition, because some of this will necessarily be part of a network rather than an independent system like many health providers use for medical records, it will open the whole system up for hackers.  Network security is a lot like a lock on your door.  It won’t keep anyone out who really wants to get in.

Of course, none of that matters to President Obama.  Instead, he’d rather grand stand by waving his hand to pretend he’s going to prevent another Sandy Hook.

Unfortunately, reality points out that Adam Lanza didn’t purchase his firearms legally.  Instead, he murdered his own mother to get the guns.  Does Obama really think that the next Adam Lanza wouldn’t do something similar?

Of course, the progressive thought processes that go into things like this never bother to look at something like that.  After all, it’s more important to keep guns out of people’s hands than to make sure that those hands are really a threat to anyone.

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