In the wake of the at Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings many in the United States Legislature and the public have called for legislation mandating mental evaluations prior to the purchase of firearms.
One may expect President Obama’s early return to Washington on December 26, 2012, to address the fiscal cliff to have an addition for gun control tacked on to his “new plan.”
Any health evaluation would fall under the domain of HIPPA and be rigorously protected by that set of laws from public transmittal or use against a person.
A potentially successful defense against the use of mental evaluations to keep the mentally ill from acquiring guns would probably be successful because the Supreme Court of the United States dare not open the door for public access to health records lest those records be used by employers to eliminate poor health risks from their work force.
The reliability of mental health testing has always been in doubt. One of the most frequently used assessments is the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI). This test is a series of over 500 questions that evaluates and predicts the personality and mental state of an individual. The MMPI is used as part of the evaluation of Secret and Top Secret clearances for some positions in the FBI, CIA, and the DOD.
Charles McCreary and Eligio Padilla from the University of California, Los Angeles states, “The MMPI is used extensively in diagnostic and treatment decisions for persons with emotional/behavioral disturbances. There is continuing controversy about the appropriateness of the MMPI when decisions involve persons from non-white racial and ethnic backgrounds. In general, studies of such divergent populations as prison inmates, medical patients, psychiatric patients, and high school and college students have found that blacks usually score higher than whites on the L,F, Sc, and Ma scales. There is near agreement that the notion of more psychopathology in racial ethnic minority groups is simplistic and untenable. Nevertheless, three divergent explanations of racial differences on the MMPI have been suggested. Black-white MMPI differences reflect variations in values, conceptions, and expectations that result from growing up in different cultures. Another point of view maintains that differences on the MMPI between blacks and whites are not a reflections of racial differences, but rather a reflection of overriding socioeconomic variations between racial groups. Thirdly, MMPI scales may reflect socioeconomic factors, while other scales are primarily race-related.”
Mental testing for gun control can be contested and defeated based on race considerations the sanctity of health care information considerations.