As a Second Amendment organization representing over 500,000 members, Gun Owners of America is writing to express its opposition to Docket No. HHS-OCR-2014-0001-0001.
This proposed rule would massively expand the ability to impose federal gun bans on Americans.
The proposal from HHS would effectively say that federal health privacy laws (HIPAA) do not apply to the Second Amendment.
The rule would waive federal privacy protections to “permit ... disclosures of protected health information for purposes of reporting to the NICS ....”
This isn’t the first time that President Barack Obama has stuck his leering eyeballs into Americans’ medical records and private affairs. From its Orwellian government database on Americans’ health records to its voracious seizure of Americans’ phone records, the Obama administration can’t trample our personal privacy fast enough.
But HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ efforts to turn over personal mental health information to the government’s gun ban blacklist (NICS) is particularly loathsome.
Not to be outdone, Attorney General Eric Holder -- currently being pursued for contempt of Congress -- intends to seize guns from persons subject to “outpatient commitments (even without a court order) (and) ... someone (deemed by some bureaucrat to be) lacking mental responsibility or deemed insane...”
More than 150,000 law-abiding veterans have already lost their constitutional rights -- with no due process whatsoever -- because they consulted a VA therapist about a traumatic incident in Iraq, Afghanistan, or the Balkans.
Under these new proposed regulations, tens of millions of police and firemen with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder -- or people who, as kids, were diagnosed with Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder -- could lose their constitutional rights without any court order, merely because they sought a benefit under a federal program.
The hidden agenda behind HHS’ “commitment” language can be illustrated by an experience of one of our members. This member lives in a rabidly anti-gun state. Many years ago, he was picked up by police and, without the approval of any court, was sent to a mental facility overnight for “observation.” The mental facility found no mental problems and promptly released him.
However, many years later, as a result of that state’s anti-gun crackdown (which HHS is now trying to emulate), his name has been sent to the NICS system. He has lost his constitutional rights, and it will cost him tens of thousands of dollars (which he does not have) to get them back.
GOA believes this is unlawful under current law. But it will probably not be unlawful by the end of your regulatory proceedings.
What does Secretary Sebelius have to say about this? Well, she is surprisingly flip: “There is a strong public safety need for this information to be accessible to the NICS, and some states are currently under-reporting or not reporting certain information to the NICS at all.”
And this from the White House: “...when persons with a mental illness do not receive the treatment they need, the result can be tragedies such as homicide or suicide.”
But herein lies the problem: When Americans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Attention Deficit Disorder realize that nothing they say to their therapist is really confidential, they're not going to be seeking treatment for very long.
But there’s an even more fundamental problem: Last winter, Barack Obama decided that he would devote the first half of 2013 to the destruction of what he and his supporters characterized as “the gun manufacturers’ lobby.” Tens of millions of Americans let their senators and representatives know that they found Obama's views and Obama's legislation to be odious and offensive. As a result, it was rejected in the Democrat-controlled Senate.
So now, as has happened so many times before, Obama and HHS have set themselves “above the law.” What could not be done using constitutional processes is now being slammed through by regulatory fiat.
Gun Owners of America intends to ask Congress to overturn your privacy-hating regulations. But you can save yourself some pain by backing away from this proposed rule.
NOTE: GOA submitted the above testimony to HHS on January 14, 2014. Gun owners are encouraged to submit their own letters of opposition to the HHS regulations -- Docket No. HHS-OCR-2014-0001-0001. Statements can be submitted here and must be done so on or before March 10, 2014.