Tuesday, April 09, 2013

No Mandatory Reporting in Maryland

The legislative session ended here at Midnight.   Maryland repealed the death penalty, added a gas tax, and has sweeping gun legislation that bans assault weapons & requires licensing with background checks & a gun safety course, and limits magazines capacity to 10 rounds. Medical marijuana is now legal but with the limitation that it be prescribed through an academic center and with a number of stipulations that include failure of conventional treatments.  Even I can live with that.

There were more mental health bills related to gun legislation than I care to discuss.  Most of them went quietly away. 

Mandatory reporting of patients who are "likely to be dangerous" did not get incorporated into our Firearms Act. 

If I'm right on the final version (and I may be back with an update here), the following people must be reported to the NICS database:

  • Anyone civilly committed to a psychiatric hospital and found, by the administrative law judge, to be dangerous to others.  Please note this does not mean if you are committed from an ER-- you need to go to an actual hearing and this usually takes place several days after admission.  By this point, the patient often decides to sign in voluntarily, or the staff decides the patient isn't dangerous and they are permitted to sign out, so the people who make it to the hearing and then are held by the judge after the hearing are a select few.  And then it's only those who are deemed dangerous to others who go to the database.  I'm not commenting.
  • Any patient hospitalized (voluntarily or not) for 30 consecutive days or more.  The psychiatric society fought this one, but apparently there is federal law requiring this and only the state hospitals had been reporting. 
To get your gun rights back, there are still a lot of hoops to jump through, including getting a psychiatrist to certify that you are safe with a firearm. I haven't checked the details on that one yet, I think it's toned down a little from the original and may not ask to have the future predicted, but I still think it may be a hard call to find a psychiatrist to say you're safe with a gun.  Guns are to shoot people with : is anyone safe with one?  Good luck finding a gun-certifying shrink, and please don't call my office with that request. 

It could have been a lot worse, especially when you look at what was proposed, including psychiatric assessments for gun ownership for every psychiatric inpatient immediately upon admission.  I'm glad I ranted everywhere I did in print,  and I'm glad I went to Annapolis twice. I'd like to believe it helped.  Our MPS legislative chairs, Dr. Brian Zimnitsky and Dr. Jennifer Palmer did an incredible job and spent countless uncompensated hours on this.  Brian was in Annapolis during the workday, late into the night, and on at least one weekend.  Our lobbyists, Lisa Harris Jones and Sean Malone and their intern-extraordinaire, Philip Cronin, were terrific, I hope they are off having a beer somewhere. 

I'll know more later, and I'll amend this post at the bottom if I was wrong about the final issues.