New Gun Control Laws and Special Needs

Vice President Joe BidenToday, January 15, 2013, Vice President Biden delivered his policy proposals to President Obama regarding ways to reduce gun violence. New York Governor Cuomo also unveiled rules to prevent gun violence. Some of the new regulations are going to affect children, teens, and adults who have mental illnesses. Here is what parents need to know.

Now is the time to do something. The tragedy that happened in Newtown, Connecticut, has sparked a push for legislators to enact laws that are intended to reduce the amount of gun violence in the United States. Some feel that this is what we have needed for a very long time. Others feel that these laws are unconstitutional.

In addition to making it more difficult to purchase guns, these new regulations also touch on issues relating to mental health. In this blog, I will briefly review what each set of laws says regarding mental health.

The plan that President Obama announced today has two sections that are in regards to mental health. The first one is: “Make our schools safer with new resource officers and counselors, better emergency response plans, and more nurturing school climates”. WhiteHouse.Gov describes this as:

The Administration is calling on Congress to help schools hire up to 1,000 more school resource officers, school psychologists, social workers, and counselors, as well as make other investments in school safety.

…In addition, the Administration is proposing to help 8,000 schools put in place proven strategies to prevent violence and improve school climate by reducing bullying, drug abuse, violence, and other problem behaviors.

Another portion of the rules reads: “Ensure quality coverage of mental health treatment, particularly for young people”. The purpose is to do more to identify mental health issues early and to help individuals to get the treatment they need before dangerous situations develop.

In New York, Governor Cuomo has signed the NY SAFE Act. It stands for Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act. It includes a Mental Health Alert:

Under the legislation, mental health professionals will be required to report to local mental health officials when there is a reason to believe a patient is likely to engage in conduct that will cause serious harm to themselves or others. This information will then be crosschecked against the new comprehensive, and regularly updated, gun registration database. If the patient possesses a gun, the license will be suspended and law enforcement will be authorized to remove the person’s firearm.

Image by Marc Nozell on Flickr