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Colorado Bill Could Lead to Gun Limits for Those with Substance Abuse, Mental Illness


Legislators in Colorado are considering a measure that would create a task force to look at whether gun restrictions should be instituted for people with substance abuse problems or mental illness.

The task force would “advise the general assembly regarding issues surrounding the loss, maintenance, and restoration of the right to purchase and possess firearms by persons who, as a result of mental health issues, alcohol abuse, or substance abuse, are clearly dangerous to the health and safety of themselves or others,” the bill states. The bill’s sponsor, Beth McCann, said she introduced it in the wake of the Aurora movie theater massacre. The suspect had been seeing a psychiatrist before the shooting, the Associated Press reports.

The measure passed one Colorado House committee, and now moves to another committee. If approved by that body, it would move to the full House. Opponents are concerned a task force would stigmatize people with mental health issues, and discourage them from seeking treatment.

The bill states the task force would be bipartisan, and would include mental health professionals, legislators and gun experts. It would issue a report by January 2015.

3 Responses to this article

  1. Lyn Lee / April 25, 2013 at 7:05 am

    Has anyone considered HIPAA? This is a federal law requiring privacy to ones medical records. How is the government going to access this? Do we want “Big Brother” poking around in our medical records. Substance abuse and mental illness are records that are not normally released at all. Mental health professionals are required by law to notify law enforcement if a patient is considered dangerous to themselves or others. Where do we go from there? This raises a much larger issue.

  2. Michael Abbott / April 24, 2013 at 11:40 pm

    It is pretty well accepted that people with mental health problems are most likely to be victims, not perpetrators, of violence. I don’t think focusing on mental health as a correlate of gun violence is going to bring about any solutions unless we recognize that people who own guns for their own protection have their own special mental health diagnosis.

  3. Barbara Kashinski / April 26, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    Actually, for those with substance abuse issues, CFR 42, Part 2 needs to be considered first. It is tougher than HIPAA when it comes to medical records and release of information for anyone with substance abuse issues. Federal Law would have to be changed to allow anyone with a substance abuse issue to be entered into a database because CFR 42 Part 2 forbids the release of any information without the signed consent of the patient, or a court order. While it is a nice dream that these lists will be created, there are too many obstacles to overcome. In addition, what constitutes a substance abuse or a mental health issue – does someone who sees a mental health counselor for grief qualify to be on this list?

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