While most of the civilized world would think it rare to have something so absolutely idiotic, so devoid of common sense, and so disdainful of one's own fellow human beings presented as legitimate legislation, we've become used to it in NC. HB562, however, surpasses every bar of abject stupidity previously set by this NCGA. As we all know, that's an amazingly high bar. I am far from alone in my assessment of this piece of NRA propaganda.
So, how does H562 impact health services providers and more importantly, the Citizens of NC? Well, to begin with, this bill specifically names psychiatrists and psychologists as professionals disallowed from asking about gun ownership. As you likely know, these professionals routinely and most often evaluate patients for suicidal and/or homicidal ideation. While H562 states that these questions may be asked when a patient has “expressed a desire to harm self or others”, this merely shows the incredible naiveté of those crafting this bill. Those who are at risk to commit suicide do not always expressly state their intention. Similarly, those who are at risk to kill others do not always express their intention. For this reason, behavioral health clinicians often make determinations regarding a person’s risk for suicide or homicide based on a host of clinical and environmental factors. One of these factors is, of course, possession of a firearm.
In 2013, the number of completed suicides in NC by any means numbered 1,284. Of those, 771 were accomplished by use of a gun. (http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/fatal_injury_reports.html). That means that in 2013, a full 60% of all suicides in NC were committed with a gun. So more to the point, the NCGA wants to prohibit behavioral health professionals from asking about the single most lethal means of suicide in NC which accounts for 60% of ALL completed suicides. Let that sink in for a moment. If you’ve been personally impacted by the suicide by gun of a friend or family member, you already know that this threat, whether expressly stated or not, is very, very real. But that’s not all this bill accomplishes.
H562 also manages to prohibit providers of health services from informing responding police officers, EMS, or fire fighters if their patient has weapons in the home if there is a crisis. The bill directly contradicts and criminalizes a behavioral health provider’s legally mandated Duty to Warn others if it is believed that a patient plans to kill another person with a gun.
Risk of suicide in those cases where suicidal ideation is determined to be present by a professional, is ALWAYS increased when a gun is present in the home. This determination is made due to the immediate nature of death by gun. With other means of suicide, there is often time to reconsider, or the method itself is not always lethal. An overdose of pills, for example, may not be fatal if the person receives medical assistance in time. Likewise, cutting one’s wrists may not always prove fatal. A gun shot however, is instantaneous and fatal close to 100% of the time where suicide is truly intended.
Like perhaps no other piece of legislation in NC’s history, this bill makes one thing abundantly clear. The NCGA GOP have no problem placing NC Citizens at risk to further their own twisted and irrational ideology. These Legislators are owned lock, stock, and barrel by any extreme Right-Wing group who wishes to have their will imposed on the people of NC.
Welcome to NC… a place where the elected GOP officials craft legislation that makes it easier for NC Citizens to die… and the Citizens keep voting for them anyway.