Ask New York Not to Stigmatize Mental Illness With New Gun Legislation

Target: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo

Goal: Remove section of new gun law that requires mental health professionals to report patients to the authorities if they show any signs of danger to themselves or others

Last month New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law the first gun-control bill since the Newtown massacre, a tragedy that has spurred an intense national gun law discussion. A highly-touted piece of this legislation is the provision that requires mental health professionals to report their patients to the state if these patients show behavior that suggests they could do harm to themselves or others. Although the mental health facet of this issue is an important one, this law could end up doing more harm then good by turning those in need away from seeking assistance. Caring for our mentally ill should be at the top of our priority list as a nation, and having healthier citizens will do wonders for lessening gun violence, but we should be encouraging more people to seek mental health, not compromising the privacy of those who seek it.

Mental health is one of the most important, as well as one of the trickiest, facets of dealing with gun control. There is no panacea to ensure increased efficacy in treating the mentally unstable and making sure they do not do harm to others, but a general rule is that the more people receiving treatment, the better. Increasing the number of people treated while lowering stigmatization should be a paramount concern. While this New York gun law amendment is moving legislation in the right direction, requiring physicians to break doctor-patient confidentiality is not the way to increase the number of people getting mental heath coverage.

By signing this petition you will be urging Governor Cuomo to reconsider this amendment. In seeking to protect our country, we should be increasing access to mental health treatment, not punish those who are seeking help.


Dear New York Governor Andrew Cuomo,

Thank you so much for leading the charge on new gun-control legislation here in America. You are a wonderful counter to all of the inaction that currently plagues our country at the federal level. That being said, I am worried that one of  your amendments to New York gun law will do more harm than good. I think the best solution to the mental health aspect of gun control is increasing access to mental health coverage, and by mandating physicians to break doctor-patient confidentiality, I feel you are de-incentivizing people from seeking help.

Increasing access to mental health care and lowering stigmatization for those who seek help should be a priority in the quest for a safer America. A major indicator for a potential problem is not seeking help, and by requiring mental health professionals to betray their patients’ trust at the first sign of danger, many people could be turned against from seeking help.

Please reconsider this amendment in the name of de-stigmatizing mental illness, and pushing everyone who feels that they need help towards seeking it.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: publik15 via Flickr

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  1. Are you kidding me?? In the wake of Sandy Hook I cannot believe that such a stupid petition actually was thought about and put forth!!! How is gun control stigmatizing mental illness? Most of the massacres happening today were prepetuated by mentally ill persons -whether you like it or not, that is a fact! And mentally ill people should NOT have access to weapons, period. In order to protect people from more massacres, if that is “stigmatizing” mentally ill people-then it has to be what it is! How irresponsible is this petition?!

    • Calvin Smith Calvin Smith says:

      Lisa – Thank you for your feedback. I would just like to clarify something. This petition isn’t about gun control as a whole stigmatizing mental illness. My problem is with the particular policy introduced in New York that requires mental health professionals to report their patients to the authorities if they feel they are a danger to themselves or others. In a vacuum this policy is a good idea, however I worry that it will turn people away from seeking help who really need it. When it comes to mental illnesses, my opinion is that the more people going in for help the better. If I was a gun-owning person in New York having disturbing thoughts, under this new law I might think twice about talking to someone if I knew that the police could take my guns away if my physician recommended it. And, in fact, my physician would be required by law to tell the authorities to take my guns away if I was having said disturbing thoughts. So in the end, I feel that this policy disincentivizes people from seeking help, which I see as counterproductive.

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