November 19, 2009
The Illinois State Rifle Association www.isra.org has issued a warning to its members of a disturbing trend that is a direct threat to gun ownership. A new law (PA 95-0564) that requires health care providers to report patients to the state police is playing havoc with Illinois gun owners. The Law was passed by the Illinois General Assembly in a knee jerk response to the Virginia Tech shooting. The law requires mental health care providers to report patients that are deemed a threat to themselves or society to the Illinois State Police (ISP) but the new law has taken an unexpected twist.
The ISRA has learned that during certain hospital admission procedures a short interview with a Psychologist maybe part of the admissions process. The admittance process that triggers an interview with a psychologist may include stress, alcohol treatment or other scenarios. These seemingly innocent hospital knock and talk interviews are being used by the ISP as a disqualifier for gun ownership. The ISRA has learned of gun owners being sent notices from the ISP that their FOID card has been revoked after a visit to the hospital. Apparently Hospitals strapped for cash have included Psychologist interviews as part of their admittents process. The ISRA is encouraging its members to respectfully decline these interviews if possible. They are also suggesting that if a member is caught in one of these interviews that they remove their guns from their homes as quickly as possible to a friend or family member with a valid FOID card for safe keeping. Until the passage of the new law, Illinois and federal gun laws disqualified people from owning a firearm if they had been adjudicated for mental health reasons. Prior to the 1968 Gun Control Act and the Illinois FOID card law, non-violent felons and people with mental illness were allowed to own guns, yet crime was low. The health care community understood that the vast majority of people suffering from mental health problems were withdrawn and not a threat to themselves or society. Plus there was the notion that people could be treated with mental health problems and expect a full recovery. Will the new law force Illinoisans to put mental health back into the closet or seek alternative means of treatment? The media loves to associate gun violence with mental illness but ignores the side effects of psychotropic drugs like Prozac and their possible link to violence. The United States has a long history of guns being given to family members as heirlooms; will that tradition come to an end in Illinois? If the State of Illinois wants to put Mental Health back into the closet their doing an excellent job.