U.S. Justice Foundation Comments to HHS on HIPAA Privacy Rule and the NICS System

Michael Harless Administrative Law, Firearms Law

Our firm filed comments for U.S. Justice Foundation with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) opposing its Proposed Rule designed to decrease the number of Americans who may possess firearms, particular adversely affecting Veterans.

Our comments explain that the HIPAA Privacy Rules have been perverted from their original purpose to enhance patient confidences. Especially, with the new proposed amendments, these rules are now better understood as not involving privacy, but providing a justification for the federal government to have access to all of your private medical information.

Moreover, the HHS proposed regulations are likely to have an adverse effect on veterans. It has been widely reported that veterans who may need help filling out complicated benefits paperwork are being administratively categorized (not “adjudicated” as required by statute) by unqualified persons wholly without due process of law. They are being placed on the NICS list, unconstitutionally depriving them of their Second Amendment rights.

The Veterans Administration apparently considers a veteran who has been issued a fully automatic weapon to help defend the country against overseas threats, but who needs help to navigate its considerable bureaucracy, to be mentally incompetent and disqualified from owning a semi-automatic weapon upon his return to this country. Such classifications are insufficient as a matter of law because they do not constitute a finding, and are not based on findings, that meet the statutory standard of “adjudicated as a mental defective or who has been committed to a mental institution.” Once so categorized, the veteran must navigate yet another bureaucracy to undo the damage that its claims processors do, only to discover that there is there is essentially little veterans can do to regain their Second Amendment rights.

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