Tag Archives: NY gun law

Why we should stand against the SAFE ACT.


Why we stand against the SAFE ACT

We want our state and our nation to address the causes of the current nation-wide wave of violence effectively and with fair policies.

But, it is unfair to point at people with mental disabilities as the cause of all that violence and as a threat to ‘national security’. We are none of those. The statistics show that we are more likely to suffer the violence inherent in the prejudice against people with all types of disabilities, than to dish it out.

The SAFE Act was passed in 20 minutes late at night and right after the horrific Boston shooting last year. Clearly, it was intended as a quick placebo for a terrified society demanding action from politicians to control what it incorrectly perceives as the source of the wave of violence: guns and mental illness.

So, we must repudiate any policy that scapegoats us in the interest of political gains for our current elected officials of both parties at both the state and national levels.

The SAFE Act is not a law; it is a witch-hunt and ‘saves’ no one.

The SAFE Act is being used to limit the civil rights of, not only the ‘persistent and chronically mentally ill’, but of anyone who may seek mental health services for the first time. (See Side by side: SAFE Act and OMH.) The names reported per the SAFE Act mandate goes to the FBI, and from there they quietly seep up to Department of Homeland Security list of ‘possible terrorists’. In the ‘land of the free’, being in that list is terrifying in itself.

The causes of violence in a society are deep and complicated. But this much we can say: the government and its bureaucratic agencies inflict violence on the population in a form that passes as ‘lawful’ and ‘for your own good’, in the form of POLITICAL violence. Daily police brutality, violation to personal integrity by police searching your body  to protect you from the ‘terrorists’, 911 calls for the police to pick up an EDP (’emotionally disturbed person’) usually ends with the EDP being killed by the police…this is a system out of control.

See next how OMH is violating the SAFE ACT to grab power to limit our civil rights.


NY Safe Act: gun law gives Office of Mental Health power to see the future [wink]


Children 11 years old automatically placed in the gun registry, all people admitted to inpatient psych hospitals and all people DISCHARGED from psych hospitals, all their names in the registry AUTOMATICALLY…sorry but it is NOT in fascist Germany. Is it the Office of Mental Health (OMH)? We must act against this outrage, but keep reading.

According to testimony of a Mr. Wolkenbreit, counsel to the New York State Conference of Local Mental Hygiene Directors, Inc. and other mental health providers and civil libertarians at a state Assembly committee hearing  about the mental health provisions of the NY SAFE Act (watch the video at the end of this post):

1) Everybody already admitted, even before the passing of the Safe Act, and everybody admitted to a psych hospital after its passing have been placed in the gun registry, AND at DISCHARGE TOO:

“the state took the position that ALL persons admitted to a state psychiatric hospital met the criteria of 9.46 simply by virtue of their admission...”

“based on POTENTIAL risk standards, hospital administration or counsel have RECOMMENDED or REQUIRED that ALL persons admitted with mental illness diagnosis  be reported…”

“because of amount of reports [received], DCJS is forced to accept them as VALID.”

“OMH wants reporting on discharge and admission…[this is] beyond the scope or reasonable or useful”. Mr. Stein

2) names of  all CHILDREN 11 YEARS OLD and up are been put in the registry automatically, and the absurd reason to include their names:

“OMH is requiring ALL mental health hospitals to report admissions of ALL 11 years old children or older…”

because it is possible that a 16 years old be admitted to the military with parental consent and be discharged at 16 years old and apply for a gun permit

Based on that ‘reasoning’, it is impossible not to sense  paranoia in the attitude of OMH’s administrators who ordered these procedures. They are now engaged in predicting the future: let’s ‘convict’ 11 years old kids NOW since surely they (boys and girls) will be enrolled in the army and surely will come out as  ‘terrorists’. Geez!

3) I mentioned in this blog, when the gun law was passed, that the gun law is NOT  a mandate to gun sellers to do a background check. A Mr. Stein (lawyer, I think) came to a similar conclusion during the hearing:

” Safe Act looks like a mandate but it isn’t…it is not an ‘authorization’ nor a ‘mandate’…[because it doesn’t have] mandate language like 33.13″

“it is NOT a mandate because it doesn’t have a ‘must’, [there are] no penalties.”

3) And, as I have been saying ALL along in this blog, Ms. Haroules of the NY Civil Liberties Union said that these laws:

“protect the providers, not the recipients.”

She also said, paraphrasing, that the way in which this gun law was passed, without input from consumers, made a mockery of the legislative process and the system. I said that too before.

That is in a nut shell what transpired in that hearing. In my view, this ought to be in the mainstream media. OMH has, once again, betrayed the people it is mandated to protect.

The political consequences of all this hanky panky with the gun law is hard to ignore. It is like a virus running across the US: dossiers being made of every citizen, classified in this or that category, all by a nation gripped by paranoia.

I have left out comments about stigma and repression and other problems, mostly because I’m focusing here on the political aspect of the issue: the power of the government to control our lives and the police state. I have mentioned all this in other posts. So…

We shall overcome, it will take time, but we shall overcome.

The only way to bring OMH to ‘task’ is by consumers regaining their collective voice and marching in front of OMH with their denunciations: CLEAN THAT REGISTRY! TAKE ALL THOSE NAME OUT!

That’s what the Citywide Mental Health Project is planning to do.The Tea Party and gun lovers had their rally this past weekend in Albany against this registry and law. Over a thousand people attended. WHAT ABOUT US?!

If you are interested in helping us organize a rally in front of OMH, contact us at:

citywidementalhealthproject@live.com

Links:

[2] http://www.nysenate.gov/committee/mental-health-and-developmental-disabilities

[4] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xSae–ouoGE

Gov. Cuomo’s new Protection and Advocacy System: Do we REALLY need to be protected??


I asked myself that question while I was at the state-wide video hearing last Friday about the Gov Cuomo’s proposal to create a  new P&A system. From the Metro area,  The Citywide Mental Health Project were the only ones there. More than shocked or upset, I was saddened by the lack of interest in our community and the public at large on the issue of abuses perpetrated on people with disabilities.

You would have thought that, after all the brouhaha about abuses and the gun control laws that promise to curtail the few rights we have left, after all those state reports about privatizing the functions of our government, which will make abuses a mere ‘collateral damage’ that comes with the imperative to make profit, you would have thought that after all that there would be a long line to get inside the conference room. Nope.

The situation I described was the same in other state counties: few brave souls showed up to speak up their minds. Many were able to articulate their lack of hope in the ability and willingness of this new system to protect people with disabilities. DIA was there, in another county; some people with developmental disabilities stood up to speak up  for themselves. The father of a son who was killed in one of this institutions was there. I wish I could speak to him; his comment was stripped of pleasantries and went to the root of the matter. His statements were very much what we at the Citywide have been saying about how the system is failing us.

Where is our community? It seems that our community and the society at large trust that the Governor, because he is a democrat, is doing everything right to help us.

Anyone who knows about politics knows that ‘trust’ in politicians is like trusting ice will keep your water cool for a long time. (Think about simile.)

Even if I grant good-will in the intentions behind this new P&A system, politicians make (GULP) mistakes. And one thing is the INTENTION behind the policy, another is the IMPLEMENTATION.

We are still here, the Citywide, trying to keep the issue in the open. The discussion of abuses is TABOO in our mental health system; we need to break that taboo.

Waiting for a miracle will not change things. We need to stand up and start speaking about this issue.

And if you are happy and have not experience abuses and mistreatment then, let those who have and want to denounce the abuses in the system do their work.

We can’t continue to cry ‘foul’ every time some story of abuse is published in our mainstream media and then go back to our state’s  ‘councils’ where nothing is done about anything without the consent of OMH or the city.

Organizing to secure funds for programs is a priority, but so is our lives and mental health.

We need to organize to make the system SAFE for us. It will not happen by magic.

Lourdes

A bullet for gun lovers and haters. Calle 13.


This is from Puerto Rican rappers Calle 13. The song is called “la bala” or “the bullet’. The English translation is underneath each Spanish verse. Watch the original video in Spanish in Youtube.

NYS Gun law: stigma and the danger of feeling jumpy.


Some reactions I have to this whole gun-control law:

1. Done “behind close doors”.

Apart from the evident issue of ‘transparency’, one problem with this is that many times courts use the history of a bill or law to help the judge understand it and arrive to a more ‘fair’ judgement. It seems to me that this is not possible when the history of the bill  is shrouded in secrecy. Maybe the judge can still peek behind the curtain, but I doubt a defense lawyer can do it.

2. Stigma against the mentally ill sanctioned by law.

People who suffer from mental illness in all of its forms, mild or severe, have been officially associated with criminals and criminality. The stigma sticks now by the force of law and public condemnation. It’s a psychological process, subtle but effective, of linking things that are not by nature linkable. In the gun battle between the NRA and our political leaders, the casualties were logic and tolerance.

All of the so-called measures related to mental ‘health’ in this gun law associate any ‘findings’ of mental illness and of history of involuntary commitment,  even “civilly confined in a secure treatment facility” to the euphemistic “contrary to public safety”. The mentally ill have been declared PERMANENTLY “contrary to public safety”.

Any measure of ‘assessment’ of disability is done to calm the public’s irrational fears of the mentally ill. It’s not to find the sick and help them, no. It’s to punish the sick and deprive them of their liberties  in order to “protect” a prejudiced populace. The measures relating to AOT are there to find out whether  UNARMED prisoners in prison are mentally ill, in which case they will be tagged permanently and, if released, spied upon according to the ‘surveillance’ measures in the law. They don’t call them surveillance, of course; they call it “reporting”.

Our prisons are the new psych hospitals. Many people are aware of this. And if you were not mentally ill when you got in, you sure will become one once inside. But the point is that the double whammy of being an ex-con by nature of having been imprisoned due to your mental illness and now been tagged as even more dangerous to society because you are ill and could go on mass killing, is unfair, stigmatizing and solves nothing.  Let alone the fact that no measures to help the mentally ill in prison is mentioned in this law.

So, even if you haven’t been to prison, if your ‘friends’ find out you have  a ‘diagnosis’, that will be enough to scare the bejesuse out of them. Wow. You must be an ex con too. Mass murderer….

Kidding aside, that’s how stereotypes work.

3. Privacy lost.

I wonder what other rights, in addition to privacy, will the mentally ill lose next. Mind you, we lose these rights by virtue of being ill. Committed ‘for your own good’ against your will? Check your privacy at the door; it’s for your own good too. Well, not yours but for the “public safety”. And don’t expect to get it back any time soon. Had “insight” and talked about your “violent” thoughts with your therapists, even though you have never been violent and know you wouldn’t harm any one? Privacy lost. You probably be in the hospital by now.

You have to learn a new language to communicate with your therapists now in these days of ‘the mentally ill are mass killers’. Eliminate “violent ideas” or “I feel jumpy”. It may put you in the AOT program in the blink of an eye.

It doesn’t matter why you were hospitalized, for how long, how frequently…one history, one ‘episode’ is enough to cast you out of society.

I hope you find comfort in this bill.

God knows I don’t. Anything done at the expense of the mentally ill is bound to oppress me. We saved nothing with this bill, we fixed nothing with it, there were no provisions to help the mentally ill. Only punishment.

Pray that you or any one in your family ever have ‘an episode’.

 

PS. Sorry for the frequent passive voice. I’m working on it.