Law-abiding Americans receiving disability or supplemental income payments and diagnosed with a mental health issue that requires someone else to handle their financial affairs were the targets of an Obama administration regulation to infringe on their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
Under a policy some called too broad, the Social Security Administration was required to report to the FBI people receiving these payments and diagnosed with certain mental health conditions as ineligible to buy guns. Being unfit to handle personal finances was considered a factor to make the determination.
But the regulation had the potential to bar people who weren’t a danger to others. That’s why the Senate just rolled back this regulation by a vote of 57-43. The House passed the measure last month.
Lawmakers invoked the Congress Review Act, which allowed them to avoid the 60-vote threshold. From the Washington Times:
The previous administration had proposed requiring Social Security to search its records and report people receiving disability benefits or supplemental income payments and who had someone else managing their finances, deeming them a “mental defective” who shouldn’t be able to buy a firearm.
Republicans, though, said that trampled on Second Amendment rights, casting too wide a net.
“It results in reporting people to the gun ban list that should not be on that list at all,” said Sen. Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican and chief sponsor of the effort to repeal the Obama rule. “It deprives those people [of] their constitutional rights and, in a very important way, violating their constitutional rights without even due process.”
Democrats said the Social Security gun rule was carefully tailored so that only people who were so incapacitated that they had someone receive their payments for them would be considered.
“If there are problems with this rule, they can be addressed by fixing it,” said Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat. “But the Republican response is always repeal first.”
A psychiatry professor at Duke University wrote this about the regulation (emphasis added):
“The gun restriction rule is a well-meaning policy that gets some things right, notably its support of federal efforts to improve detection of risky people who should not have legal access to guns. But despite its good intentions, what the policy actually does is take away the gun rights of a large category of individuals without any evidence that they pose a risk of harm to self or others, and without legal due process protections commensurate with abridging a constitutional right.”
President Donald Trump likely will sign the bill into law.