State lawmakers in New Jersey are considering a bill that would tap mental health professionals in the fight against gun violence. But some in the psychology community say it’s an overreach.
Mental health professionals are already in the business of reporting threats of imminent physical harm, says Josephine Minardo, executive director of the New Jersey Psychological Association. But the measure under consideration would take reporting a step further. Therapists could report patients to the authorities, who could then seize the firearms of registered gun owners.
Minardo says the law would likely erode trust in the patient-therapist relationship.
“Certain kinds of patients, certainly gun owners I would imagine, begin to feel that now psychologists are starting to police that as well. And that’s really not our role,” she said. “That’s what we’re most concerned about in this legislation.”
Minardo also says the wording of the bill is overly vague.
The state Assembly has passed the bill. It hasn’t come up for a vote yet in the Senate.