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Friday, January 10, 2014
WND Wants to Ensure The Mentally Ill Remain Armed
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily does not consider itself to be constrained by facts, as its coverage of Barack Obama amply demonstrates. That's demonstrated once again in a Jan. 8 article by Bob Unruh that puts fear ahead of facts in writing about guns.

Here's Unruh's overly dramatic and fearmongering opening:

In an end-of-week “information dump” often resorted to by political leaders to publicly release information they would like overlooked, President Obama formally has launched his much-feared expansion of the use of mental health diagnoses to crack down on gun ownership.

The Obama Department of Homeland Security already is on record casting aspersions on the mental ability of returning veterans, third-party candidate supporters and people with pro-life bumper stickers – calling them potential “right-wing extremists.” It was also caught, through the IRS, targeting conservative organizations that might be critical of Obama.

So critics of the administration long have warned the move would come. On Friday, it did.

Obama announced that his Department of Justice is proposing a rule change that would “clarify” that being committed to a mental institution – a key red flag under gun ownership rules – would include receiving nebulous “outpatient” services from a professional, such as a psychiatrist.

The president said his Health and Human Services agency is issuing a rule to pierce the privacy protections of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act so there would be “express permission” for “entities” to hand over to the federal government certain medical records – that is, “information necessary to help keep guns out of potentially dangerous hands.”

Notably, Unruh can't be bothered to link to the proposal in question -- that would have kept him trying to support the article's headline "See a shrink, lose your gun":

Some states have reported that certain barriers under current law make it difficult for them to identify and submit appropriate information to the federal background check system regarding individuals prohibited under federal law from having a gun for mental health reasons.  Today, DOJ and HHS are taking steps that will help address these barriers.

  • Some states have noted that the terminology used by federal law to prohibit people from purchasing a firearm for certain mental health reasons is ambiguous.  Today, DOJ is issuing a proposed rule to make several clarifications.  For example, DOJ is proposing to clarify that the statutory term “committed to a mental institution” includes involuntary inpatient as well as outpatient commitments. In addition to providing general guidance on federal law, these clarifications will help states determine what information should be made accessible to the federal background check system, which will, in turn, strengthen the system’s reliability and effectiveness.
  • Some states have also said that the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act’s (HIPAA) privacy provisions may be preventing them from making relevant information available to the background check system regarding individuals prohibited from purchasing a firearm for mental health reasons.  In April 2013, HHS began to identify the scope and extent of the problem, and based on public comments is now issuing a proposed rule to eliminate this barrier by giving certain HIPAA covered entities an express permission to submit to the background check system the limited information necessary to help keep guns out of potentially dangerous hands.  The proposed rule will not change the fact that seeking help for mental health problems or getting treatment does not make someone legally prohibited from having a firearm.  Furthermore, nothing in the proposed rule would require reporting on general mental health visits or other routine mental health care, or would exempt providers solely performing these treatment services from existing privacy rules.

At no point did Unruh explain that the proposed rule change "not change the fact that seeking help for mental health problems or getting treatment does not make someone legally prohibited from having a firearm" or that "othing in the proposed rule would require reporting on general mental health visits or other routine mental health care, or would exempt providers solely performing these treatment services from existing privacy rules." Instead, he quotes gun activists as claiming “The real agenda of the gun-hating Obama administration is to strip gun rights from law-abiding Americans, even if the result is to discourage people from seeking counseling" -- even though Unruh knows that's not the case.

Unruh then tosses in unrelated items that purport to support his contention, such as claiming that government will "crack down on gun ownership." He claims that "the government has been using its interaction with veterans to designate many of them – by the tens of thousands – incapable of handling their own financial affairs and, therefore, banned from having guns."

Unruh is comically exaggerating his numbers. The article to which he links to support his claim states only that "hundreds, perhaps thousands, of veterans" have allegedly been affected -- a far cry from the "tens of thousands" he's now claiming.

Remember, this is the kind of stuff Unruh left the Associated Press to join WND to write. His former employer would never have published something so fact-free. And his pathetically misleading reporting has the effect of ensuring that the mentally ill remain armed -- and possibly harm themselves or others.


Posted by Terry K. at 2:17 AM EST

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