The New York Safe Act is stirring up major concerns. "I understand the intent behind it, I understand the purpose behind it, I'm not really sure it's the actual problem that's out there," said Kenneth Thayer with CVPH.
After the Sandy hook shooting in 2012, legislators quickly worked to try and stop acts of violence like this from recurring. Section 9.46 in the act makes it mandatory for physicians, psychologists, registered nurses and licensed clinical social workers to report patients they view as a threat to themselves or society. Then State officials can revoke their licenses to own a gun or remove weapons from the home.
"It's the ones that are overtly suicidal and they have access to the means of doing so. And the ones that come in that are homicidal or a threat to the general public," said Thayer.
"To focus on that population as being the perpetrators of violence and we somehow report them and their guns are removed, that we're solving the problem. I think it's vastly in error," said Sherrie Gillette with Clinton County Mental Health Services.
Medical professionals worry it happened too fast, and the impact on doctor-patient relationship weren't fully considered. Medical officials say the act can disrupt patients from following through with treatment and can pose a retaliation scare for doctors that report patients. "The idea is what we know is treatments work and we want to make them as available as possible but I fear that this act can interfere with that," said Gillette.
Assemblywoman Janet Duprey voted against the bill and agrees it passed without a lot of time to process. She says prior to the bill, mental health officials claimed to struggle with handling patients posing a threat because of HIPPA regulations. Duprey thought this section would help.
"If we need to protect someone from their own weapons for a period of time until they get the help they need and are certified as being stable, we want to make sure we do it right," said Duprey. But Duprey says there needs to be a better balance.
"Too often we knee jerk and do something in response to an event and that's why I've said we'll fix it and hopefully we'll fix it in a timely manner. But now let's not swing too far the other way and not have protections there," Duprey said. She says she plans to speak with medical officials around Clinton County to see what their concerns are with this section of the bill. She then plans to go to Albany to lay it all out on the table to see if there's some way they can amend the problems this section is bringing about.
Assemblywoman Duprey says a couple of amendments have already been added to the Safe Act that the governor's office and leaders of the Assembly felt were not working since it passed in January.