Gun Control and Mental Health

From the New York Times: A Synopsis of “Mental Reports Put Thousands On New York’s No-Guns List”

Sandy Hook Elementary School 2012 shooting prompted the Safe Act, “an expansive package of gun control measures pushed through by the administration of Gov. Andrew M. Cumo.”

The law aims to ban assault weapons; however, its secondary order urges licensed mental health professionals in NY to report any and all patients “likely to engage in conduct that would result in serious harm to self or others.”

An astounding 40,000 people have already been added to the list since March 16th, 2013.

About 500 NY patients are added per week–with some possible duplications.

Gun control supporters tote a broad, shotgun approach to net all possible threats with the list; while mental health advocates point out that not all help-seeking sufferers cross the proverbial bridge between thought and action into violence.

Yet the database will not come with a color-coded key to differentiate members to interpreters. It will be impossible to independently assess at-risk from non-threatening patients.

This database is a possible way in which Legal is trying to integrate technology, facilitating available information into practice.

However, the attempted integration ignores aspects of the human element–lumping “assumed and actual risks” [people] together; thus adding to the general stigma of mental health sufferers, possibly deterring them from seeking help and self-imposing an unwanted label.  Further, what else will this  list be used for?

“Assumed dangerousness is a far cry from actual dangerousness.”

~ Sam Tsemberis, Chief Executive of Pathways to Housing non-profit agency


Hartocollis, Anemona. “Mental Reports Put Thousands On New York’s No-Guns List.” The New York Times, National Edition ed.: 1, 22. Print.



5 comments on “Gun Control and Mental Health

  1. Natalie… Is this post about Cuomo’s gun control policies or more specifically about this particular aspect of it? And are saying you are against either? Both?


    • Brad, I felt like it was an issue I wanted to touch on. I used to attend therapy for depression and never felt fully comfortable opening up because I knew my information was being stored and potentially categorized. I think this aspect might keep other people from getting help. With guns I believe it is tempting to present propaganda because controversy hooks attention, and I am hoping to create a respectful conversation where people aren’t afraid to speak up.


      • Yup. That’s the problem with this past of the policy. It seems like they are throwing out the baby with the bathwater. I realize this is a broader topic on mental health, however. I’m coming from the anti-gun control aspect of the conversation.

        Liked by 1 person

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