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Doctors can report some mentally ill patients to FBI under new gun control rule

Published: January 5, 2016
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Source: Politico

´╗┐Delivering on its promise to deliver “common sense” gun control, the Obama administration on Monday finalized a rule that enables health care providers to report the names of mentally ill patients to an FBI firearms background check system.

The action was one of a series of steps that President Barack Obama had called for in January 2013 in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., shootings to curb gun violence, but the rule was not published until today.  

While the 1993 Brady law prohibits gun ownership by individuals who have been involuntarily committed, found incompetent to stand trial or otherwise deemed by a court to be a danger to themselves or others, federal health care privacy rules prohibited doctors and other providers from sharing information without the consent of their patients.

Under the rule, which takes effect next month, for the first time health providers can disclose the information to the background check system without legal repercussions.

“The disclosure is restricted to limited demographic and certain other information needed for NICS purposes,” the rule states. Disclosure of diagnostic or clinical information is prohibited.

Paul Gionfriddo, chief executive of the mental health rights advocate Mental Health America, said he believes the White House strikes the right balance between the need to have this information shared with the FBI’s background check system and protecting individuals’ privacy.´╗┐´╗┐

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