The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs said Monday it would not comply with the mental-health provisions of the state’s controversial new gun-control law.
The so-called NY SAFE Act requires mental health professionals to report when a patient is considered a threat to himself or others. The state can then check whether the patient has any gun licenses, and the state may confiscate the patient’s firearms.
Mark Ballesteros, spokesman for the VA, said in an e-mail Monday that these requirements are trumped by protections for veterans in federal law.
“Federal laws safeguarding the confidentiality of veterans’ treatment records do not authorize VA mental-health professionals to comply with this NY State law,” Ballesteros said. “Under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, Federal laws take precedence over conflicting state and local laws.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo was asked about the conflict at a cabinet meeting Monday.
“You know, I really don’t know the specifics,” Cuomo said, “but first of all, what the law says is, it leaves it totally up to the mental health provider if they want to come forward or not—totally up to them.”