The New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013 commonly known as the NY SAFE Act is one of the most restrictive state wide gun control laws in the United States. Further more; it is one of the most discriminatory laws in the State of NY as it presumes that people who have been diagnosed with a psychiatric disability are dangerous! Hundreds of thousands of NYS citizens with psychiatric disabilities and labels, as well as any persons who could have future contact with mental health services, will be impacted by the NYS Safe Act. In creating a “dangerous persons/ At risk ” statewide database through the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS,) all providers of health/mental health services will be required to report any person whom they consider “is likely to engage in conduct that would result in serious harm to self or others” whether or not they commit any actual crime or act of violence. This includes any person who is voluntarily/involuntarily committed into a psychiatric hospital, as the law uses the same current criteria for assessing risk of harming self or others.
The NY SAFE Act will not reduce gun violence, or any other type. There is no evidence that such a database will control or limit violent behavior. In fact, research concludes that people who are diagnosed with psychiatric disabilities are 14 times more likely to be the victims of violent crimes than to commit them. Experts say economic inequality, unemployment, recent divorce and physical abuse are better predictors of who will become violent than a diagnosis. (NYAPRS, Brekke, J. S., Prindle, C., Woo Bae, S., et al 2001, Appleby, et al., 2001)
However, raising the level of reporting required by clinicians, will not only prevent people from seeking treatment, but it may also prevent them from fully disclosing information while in treatment. As NY moves towards a system that is accessible to individuals seeking help, The SAFE Act will have the direct opposite effect of alienating people wanting help, as they try to distance themselves from further stigma, loss of liberty and being labeled as dangerous.
The mental hygiene law reporting requirement in the SAFE Act will continue the culture of discrimination and stigma against NY’s most marginalized and oppressed citizens. Please support us in this effort.
Mental Health Empowerment Project, inc.
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