First off, yes, I completely read this stuff - raw from the horse's mouth. I freely admit that I am a total nerd.
That said, this legalese makes even me want to
The NICS Improvement Act of 2007 (HR2640) that the Gun Owners of America referenced was introduced on January 5, 2007 by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy [D, NY] and became law on 1/8/2008. It is a bill, "to improve the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, and for other purposes." It consists of three titles and amended the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 (18 U.S.C. 922 note - for those that want to read it - it's not very long.). Basically, it forced the states to "make electronically available to the Attorney General records relevant to a determination of whether a person is disqualified from possessing or receiving a firearm..." This "releveant information" is information such as misdeameanor crimes of domestic violence, adjudicated mental defectives, or those committed to a mental institution. Notice, your possible relationship with any psychiatrist is left in tact. Thanks to the NRA lobbying, this bill protects veterans designated to have psychological conditions and those successfully treated for mental illness. Reading the bill, I could not find any expansion of the "mental defective" definition, as some suggest. The bill clearly defines such by referring back to section 922(g)(4) of title 18, United States Code just like every other piece of legislation requiring the definition.
Now, for the current legislation (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009). While there are medical privacy concerns, I simply cannot connect the "Health Information Technology Implementation" (as the bill puts it) to stripping gun rights. Not once does the bill mention NICS, background checks, or guns. Section 3009 clearly states that the bill will, "take into account the requirements of HIPAA privacy and security law." Some are confusing this database with NICS. The two are completely separate.
In short, I believe the Gun Owners of America article to have some accurate information, along with voicing valid privacy concerns; however, I find the article to have exaggerated conclusions and some misleading information:
The Obama administration is putting a lot of pressure on Congress to
slam through the most recent $800+ billion bailout package before anyone
has an opportunity to read it.
President Obama has billed the "American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan" as his top priority. He has actively urged the House and Senate to pass it in a timely manner.
Of particular concern to gun owners are sections 13101 through 13434 of
HR 1, which would set up the infrastructure to computerize the medical
records of ALL AMERICANS in a government-coordinated database.
The bill pretty much takes your currently available health information and digitizes it. There are valid privacy concerns here (especially regarding the searchability of the database), IMHO. That said, Section 3009 clearly states that the bill will, "take into account the requirements of HIPAA privacy and security law." The above quote is misleading because the information is not specific to gun owners and is separate from the NICS system and any state or federal background checking system/database.
Remember last year's "NICS Improvement Act" -- otherwise known as the
Veterans Disarmament Act? This law codified ATF's attempts to make you
a prohibited person on the basis of a government psychiatrist's finding
that you are a "danger" -- without a finding by any court. Well,
roughly 150,000 battle-scarred veterans have already been unfairly
stripped of their gun rights by the government.
Thanks to the NRA lobbying, HR2640 protects veterans designated to have psychological conditions and those successfully treated for mental illness. Reading the bill, I could not find any expansion of the "mental defective" definition as some suggest. The bill clearly defines such by referring back to section 922(g)(4) of title 18, United States Code.
Misleading and/or false.
But people who, as kids, were diagnosed with Attention Deficit
Disorder... or seniors with Alzheimer's... or police with Post-Traumatic
Stress Disorder... or people who are now theoretically covered by the
new law... these people have, generally, not suffered the consequences
of its sanctions -- YET. And the chief reason is that their records are
not easily available to the government in a central, easily retrievable,
The bailout bill would change all of that. It would push increasingly
hard to force your private psychiatrist or government-sanctioned
psychiatrist to turn over your psychiatric records to a massive
database. This would be mandated immediately if your doctor does
business with the government.
Misleading: I don't know how the writer of the article was able to conclude that sanctions would follow the act of digitizing previously-existing records. I could not find any information suggesting this. False: Again, veterans with PTSD are exempt thanks to the NRA's lobbying efforts on HR2640. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 has no such provision and will not modify the NICS system or HIPAA laws.
So, once the government has access to these computerized psychiatric
records, the stage will be set for using that database to take away the
gun rights of those with Alzheimer's, those with ADD, and those with
The NICS database is completely separate, and HIPAA laws remain unchanged.
I'm as wary about this as the next guy. There are valid privacy concerns and legitimate criticism for putting this in a "stimulus bill;" however, there is exaggeration in the article.
Again, I made sure to only use primary sources presented from "non-biased" sources. I hope this "fact checking" helped somebody.