New Jersey: Assembly Bill Would Turn Doctors Against Their Patients

Anti-gun politicians in Trenton have no shortage of schemes to separate people from their firearms.  On Thursday, March 23, the Assembly will vote on legislation allowing medical professionals and others to seize firearms of patients they determine who are “likely to engage in conduct that would result in serious harm to self or others.”  This bill would allow marriage counselors and social workers to initiate seizure and sale of a person’s guns.  A.2938, sponsored by Assemblywoman Patricia Egan Jones, was first heard in committee last September, and NRA and ANJRPC testified against the bill due to serious due process concerns.

Since the hearing last fall, several amendments have been made which blunt some of the blatant problems with the bill in addition to changing the reporting authority from the Attorney General to local law enforcement.  However, this bill still has serious issues that remain unresolved, and the legislation would create a host of new problems.  A.2938 could have a serious “chilling effect” on those most in need who are seeking treatment.  The bill also has a drastic forfeiture provision, which calls for property to be seized and sold with no compensation to the owner.  This forfeiture provision would be applied to people seeking treatment, whereas forfeiture provisions are typically applied to those convicted of serious offenses.  The legislation would also alter the nature of doctor-patient confidentiality.  Finally, the bill is unnecessary as current law allows exceptions to the privilege and defines circumstances in which law enforcement authorities can be notified.  Adding the punitive forfeiture provision under this bill is going to have little impact on public safety.  Ultimately, health care professionals should be in the business of helping patients and not serving as law enforcement spies.

Please contact your Assembly members and ask them to respectfully oppose A.2938.

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