On Thursday, March 23, the full Assembly is scheduled for a floor vote on an amended version of A2938. The bill is a reappearance of legislation defeated by ANJRPC and NRA in 2013, which in its original form would have allowed marriage counselors, social workers, nurses, and other unaccountable health professionals to report protected patient information to the Attorney General, resulting in seizure of their patients' firearms without due process, if they "believed" the patient was a danger to themselves or others.
At an unusually lengthy committee hearing
last September at which ANJRPC, NRA, and NSSF testified, lawmakers from both parties acknowledged that the legislation was seriously flawed and Democrats said they would attempt to address the issues raised.
Recent floor amendments to A2938 added due process in the form of a court order before firearms could be taken, and limited when reporting could be made (either when a patient makes threats of imminent physical violence, or when a reasonable practitioner would conclude that an act of serious physical violence is imminent). The amendments also changed the reporting authority from the Attorney General to local law enforcement.
However, the amendments created an entirely new issue -- allowing firearms seized under the amended provisions to subsequently be disposed of as a complete forfeiture without any compensation to the owner. Only in the case of the worst criminal misconduct is forfeiture of property authorized and indeed, even in the domestic violence setting, seized firearms are not forfeited and there is a defined process for them to be sold by the legal owner. Applying forfeiture provisions to persons who have sought counseling is as absurd as it is outrageous and unfair.
Even as amended the legislation still allows unaccountable health professionals to violate patient confidences and threaten property rights. The net effect of A2938 will be to discourage those who need help the most from seeking it.
Please immediately tell every Assembly Member to Vote NO on A2938. Tell them that the January floor amendments outrageously and unfairly allow the forfeiture of seized firearms without compensation, and that unaccountable health professionals should not be empowered to violate patient confidences and threaten property rights. Tell them that the unintended consequence of A2938 even as amended will be to discourage those who need help the most from seeking it in the first place.
Legislator contact information is available by clicking here.