Your appointment with a psychiatrist or admission to a mental health facility may now be included in United States and state government databases. What happened to the protection of medical privacy? The United States government and some state governments adopted legislation directing that mental health issues can bar people from owning guns. But, you protest, you neither own a gun nor intend to buy a gun. It doesn’t matter. The government will still put your information in the database, just in case.
The US government is in the process of changing regulations to ensure more mental health information is included in its database. Meanwhile, National Public Radio reports on concerns that a new Connecticut gun law requiring the dumping of personal mental health information into that state’s database will discourage people from seeking help with mental issues.
Rep. Ron Paul, speaking on the US House of Representatives floor in the June 13, 2007 debate of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) Improvement Amendments Act, warned against the adoption of gun laws requiring the inclusion of private medical information in US government databases:
Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to H.R. 2640, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System Improvements Amendments Act, and I urge caution.
In my opinion, H.R. 2640 is a flagrantly unconstitutional expansion of restriction on the exercise of the right to bear arms protected under the second amendment.
H.R. 2640 also seriously undermines the privacy rights of all Americans, gun owners and non-gun owners alike, by creating and expanding massive Federal Government databases, including medical and other private records of every American.
H.R. 2640 illustrates how placing restrictions on the exercise of one right, in this case, the right to bear arms, inevitably leads to expanded restriction on other rights as well. In an effort to make the Brady background check on gun purchases more efficient, H.R. 2640 pressures States and mandates Federal agencies to dump massive amounts of information about the private lives of all Americans into a central Federal Government database.
Among the information that must be submitted to the database are medical, psychological, and drug treatment records that have traditionally been considered protected from disclosure under the physician/patient relationship, as well as records related to misdemeanor domestic violence. While supporters of H.R. 2640 say that there are restrictions on the use of this personal information, such restrictions did not stop the well-publicized IRS and FBI files privacy abuses by both Democratic and Republican administrations. Neither have such restrictions prevented children from being barred from flights because their names appeared on the massive terrorist watch list. We should not trick ourselves into believing that we can pick and choose which part of the Bill of Rights we support.
I urge my colleagues to join me in opposing this bill.