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Veterans Affairs Dept. Says It Won’t Comply With New York’s New Gun Law

Veterans Affairs Medical Center in New York (file / credit: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

Veterans Affairs Medical Center in New York (file / credit: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

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ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) - The federal Department of Veterans Affairs says its mental health professionals won’t comply with a new gun law in New York that requires them to report the names of patients they believe likely to hurt themselves or others.

The reporting provision is set to take effect Saturday.

The VA has announced they are opting out, saying they’re protected from state laws by the Supremacy Clause in the U.S. Constitution.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo acknowledged limits to the law.

“It leaves it totally up to the mental health provider if they want to come forward or not. It’s totally up to them,” Cuomo told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond. “Depending on the institution or the organization, they may have pre-existing legal parameters.”

Several veterans and their advocates say it would deter many from seeking counseling and medications to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder or other psychological issues. Veterans fear their rights would be taken away.

Under the law pushed by Gov. Cuomo, the information would be used to determine whether someone should give up a gun license or weapon.

VA spokesman Mark Ballesteros says federal laws protecting veterans’ treatment records take precedence.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)