The Secure Ammunition and Firearms Act, signed into law on January 15th, requires mental health professionals to report patients who are “likely to engage in conduct that would result in serious harm” to themselves or others. After a patient is reported to local mental health officials, it will be determined if the patient owns a gun using the new gun registration database. If the patient owns a gun, the patient’s gun license will be suspended and law enforcement may seize the firearm.
The law has been met with criticism by some mental health professionals, who believe the law may prevent people from seeking out and receiving effective care. Although mental health professionals have existing ethical obligations to respond to violent threats, the new law requires mental health professionals to breach their duty of confidentiality and report potentially dangerous patients without regard to the patient’s clinical treatment. However, a good faith decision to report or not to report a patient under the law “shall not be the basis for any civil or criminal liability.”