As part of Governor Cuomo's SAFE Act of 2013, any New Yorker deemed by licensed mental health professionals as "likely to engage in conduct that would result in serious harm to self or others" has their name placed on a list and is prohibited from possessing a gun permit, which is necessary to buy a handgun. An investigation by the New York Times shows that the list is garnering names faster than officials can review them.

The former director of the city's involuntary hospitalization plan called the 34,500 figure "extraordinarily high," and noted that "assumed dangerous is a far cry from actual dangerousness," while the deputy commissioner for the state's Office of Mental Health thinks "it sounds really reasonable if you know the size of the system."

But what's not in dispute is that the county officials who are assigned to review the names are overwhelmed and don't have time to review the 500 or so cases that come in each week.

Kenneth M. Glatt, commissioner of mental hygiene for Dutchess County, said that at first, he had carefully scrutinized every name sent to him through the Safe Act. But then he realized that he was just “a middleman,” and that it was unlikely he would ever meet or examine any of the patients. So he began simply checking off the online boxes, sometimes without even reviewing the narrative about a patient.

“Every so often I read one just to be sure,” Dr. Glatt, a psychologist, said. “I am not going to second guess. I don’t see the patient. I don’t know the patient.” He said it would be more efficient — and more honest — for therapists to report names directly to the Division of Criminal Justice Services, which checks them against gun permit applications.

On a recent Wednesday, Dr. Glatt logged into the system and up popped the names of people being reported — 16 since he last looked three days before.

A spokesperson for Governor Cuomo told the paper that the SAFE Act's mental health provision, one of the most stringent in the country, "is common sense and saves lives."

It should be noted that the provision only applies to handguns—anyone on the list would be able to purchase a shotgun without a gun permit.