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GOF Opposes HHS Regs Waiving HIPAA Privacy Protections

GOF News Release

Click here to read GOF’s opposition to the Obama Administration waiver of privacy rules to bar injured veterans from owning firearms.

Shortly after the Newtown, Connecticut shooting, the Obama Administration announced 23 executive actions that it would take to further restrict gun ownership. GOF is working to oppose those anti-gun actions, including one now being proposed by the Obama Administration’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Currently, it is up to the states to designate what categories of persons are reported to NICS as ineligible to own firearms, and up to the states to determine who reports such information. But HHS now wants to waive federal healthcare privacy rights to purportedly allow all sorts of additional entities to report — directly to the NICS system — medical information about people they suspect should be disarmed. GOF filed comments opposing those rules.

Under 18 U.S.C. Section 922(g)(4), Congress banned from firearms procession only persons “adjudicated” mentally defective or “committed” to a mental institution — both of which require a formal, judicial process. ATF, however, unilaterally expanded the law through regulation, to bar ownership of firearms by anyone who has been informally “found” or “determined” to lack the capacity to manage his affairs on account of mental “incompetence.”

These unauthorized ATF regulations are misused by, among others, Veterans Administration bureaucrats, against thousands of veterans who seek post-combat treatment for PTSD, or who want help with their finances, and subsequently find out they are forever barred from firearm ownership.

The HHS regulations make the illegal ATF regulations even worse by waiving the property and privacy rights we have in our own medical records, and allow all sorts of entities to report to NICS.

GOF’s comments reminded HHS that, under our federal system, it is for the states — not an unelected federal bureaucrat — to decide who — if anyone — reports to NICS. GOF also explained that, by involving all sorts of new groups, the proposed regulations would make it much harder to get erroneous information removed from NICS system.

GOF's comments also criticized HHS for usurping the role of the Department of Justice, by authorizing new entities to submit even more private medical information than NICS needs or asks for.