Recent acts of gun violence throughout the country have inspired many states,
New Jersey included, to try to develop changes to their states' gun
laws. Creating effective and ethical legislation takes more than the fears
and ideas of lawmakers.
In regards to proposed
New Jersey gun laws, the enactment of a certain portion of the proposal would impact more
than potential gun violence. It would impact the status quo within the
mental health industry in the state. Psychologists' insight on the
anti-gun violence matter, therefore, is invaluable.
Currently, counselors, mental health workers, doctors, nurses, etc. have
to report to authorities if a patient poses a threat of "imminent,
serious violence" against himself or another. Part of the New Jersey
legislative proposal is A-3754. If passed, the gun law provision would
add a new weight on the shoulders of mental health professionals in the state.
The legislative change would require those same medical professionals to
report patients to authorities if they are "likely to engage in conduct
that would result in serious harm to that patient or others." Authorities
could then take away the patients' guns based on a perceived threat
Some medical professionals fear that the proposal asks them to make too
wide of a judgment call that then puts their patients' rights at risk
as well as the doctor-patient trust in jeopardy. Patients who need to
talk and to have honest conversations about their mental health might
be afraid to be honest about their thoughts and feelings if they fear
the involvement of police. That fear, some mental health workers suggest,
could prevent patients from seeking professional help or have an otherwise
detrimental impact on the effectiveness of mental health treatment.
Cautious legislating is important for various reasons. It takes time, money
and effort to enact new gun laws. The lackadaisical passage of gun control
measures could be a waste of those resources while not solving the problem,
or even exacerbating the problem. For example, what if those who need
mental help don't seek it because they think that they can't trust
their doctors? What if the mental health they would have received could
have prevented an act of violence?
We will post an update when there is a development in gun legislation in
Source: NJSpotlight, "Proposed Law Could Use Therapy as Way to Seize Guns from Troubled Owners,"