Congress plans to take up legislation next week that is designed to block Barack Obama’s gun ban for Social Security recipients who require help with their finances.
On July 18, 2015, Breitbart News reported the Obama administration was fashioning what was then a secretive gun ban for Social Security recipients who needed help with their finances. The Los Angeles Times reported that the ban would be sweeping. They reported that it would cover those who are unable to manage their own affairs for a multitude of reasons — from “subnormal intelligence or mental illness” to “incompetency,” an unspecified “condition,” or “disease” — and would put the Second Amendment rights of such recipients in jeopardy.
On January 5, 2016, Obama incorporated the ban into his executive gun controls. A White House preview of those controls explained that the Social Security Administration (SSA) was busy finalizing rules for how and when to enforce the ban:
Current law prohibits individuals from buying a gun if, because of a mental health issue, they are either a danger to themselves or others or are unable to manage their own affairs. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has indicated that it will begin the rulemaking process to ensure that appropriate information in its records is reported to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The reporting that SSA, in consultation with the Department of Justice, is expected to require will cover appropriate records of the approximately 75,000 people each year who have a documented mental health issue, receive disability benefits, and are unable to manage those benefits because of their mental impairment, or who have been found by a state or federal court to be legally incompetent. The rulemaking will also provide a mechanism for people to seek relief from the federal prohibition on possessing a firearm for reasons related to mental health.
In early May 2016, the SSA released a 41-page preview of the ban. Page 19 made clear that beneficiaries who catch the SSA’s attention — by having someone help with finances — could find themselves the subject of an SSA attempt to determine mental health status. The SSA preview shows that the investigation to determine mental health status would become incrementally intrusive and, if a ruling of mental illness sufficient to meet the reporting threshold is issued, the beneficiary would be reported to NICS and prohibited from purchasing firearms.
In the week before Christmas 2016, the Obama administration issued the finalized version of the ban, paffecting the Second Amendment rights of at least tens of thousands of Social Security recipients. The Times reported that upwards of “4.2 million” recipients receive help with their finances, which means the number of recipients impacted could actually be in the millions.
Now Congress is acting to stop the ban. USA Today reports that Congress will take up legislation that will “prevent the government from declaring some Social Security recipients unfit to own guns after they’ve been deemed mentally incapable of managing their financial affairs.”
The NRA-ILA’s Chris Cox responded to Congress’ plans to end the ban, saying, “Congress’ decision to review the Obama administration’s backdoor gun grab is a significant step forward in restoring the fundamental constitutional rights of many law-abiding gun owners. The NRA has been fighting this unconstitutional government overreach since it was first discussed and we look forward to swift congressional action to overturn it.”
AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and host of Bullets with AWR Hawkins, a Breitbart News podcast. He is also the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.