Why oppose HB 88, Possession by a Person Prohibited:

May 16, 2013

This bill creates the potential for mistakes to be made by the multitude of officials who are in the string of deciding who keeps their firearms and who does not. From the counselor to the Department of Justice to the courts to the state police to the local law enforcement agencies - this is a huge string of people who can decide someone should be prohibited.

There is an enormous potential for these decisions to become very arbitrary decisions. Since there is no real definition in this bill of what constitutes a psychologically ‘prohibited person’, it is up to the system to decide. Thus, anyone can be deemed dangerous and therefore prohibited and their firearms confiscated.

This bill also creates major violations of patient’s privacy as doctors’ records are shared throughout the system. With the HIPPA laws, we have to give written permission for my anyone to have access to our records or for my doctor to speak with anyone concerning our health. With this law, the health records essentially become public records open for anyone to review.

These records will travel through the courts, the state police, the Department of Justice, the local law enforcement agencies, the Department of Health and Social Services, and the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health, as a minimum.

The burden of proving one is no longer prohibited is on the patient. This is somewhat like seeking parole from jail - the odds very heavily favor the system. The system decides who will be permitted to have their firearms returned. Once a person is deemed prohibited, there is very little likelihood that the system will decide he is no longer in that category.

The word confiscation from other family members in the house was used in the hearing though they said, “Of course we are not considering that”. So that will be accessible information and an invitation to the bad guys to visit an unarmed home. Would this also be accessible to future employers?

While parading itself as a means of keeping firearms out of the hands of dangerous people, in reality this added section of the bill simply makes very public the counseling records of patients and gives the State another means of firearms confiscation with virtually no hope of the individual having his guns returned.

People who support this bill in any form have this misplaced trust that due process will be followed and rules will prevent abuse. And once in place it would only take a phone call from a “concerned citizen” to bring a SWAT team to your door to take the guns. A very public display of force on the evening news  will discourage anyone else from speaking out, acting out, or getting out of line. This is how is starts, with only the best of intentions.

Perhaps that is the real intention of this bill - confiscation of firearms under the guise of protection of society.

Theresa Garcia


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