Obama Administration Moves Forward With Stripping Gun Rights Through Social Security

Katie Pavlich
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Posted: May 02, 2016 3:20 PM
Obama Administration Moves Forward With Stripping Gun Rights Through Social Security

Late last week President Obama announced a new push for additional federal "smart" gun technology funding. After grabbing headlines and much attention, the move received praise from gun control groups like Michael Bloomberg's Everytown and criticism from law enforcement, the NRA and the National Shooting Sports Foundation. 

But an issue flying under the radar in Obama's announcement is the Administration's decision to move forward with gun control measures through the Social Security system. Late last year it became clear if an individuals needs financial help managing Social Security benefits, the agency can deem that person mentally unfit to purchase a firearm. This policy is already in place at the Veteran's Administration, where people who have been assigned a "representative payee" have been permanently placed into the NICS background check system as ineligible to purchase a firearm without due process, a hearing or a trial. As background from the LA Times, bolding is mine:

Seeking tighter controls over firearm purchases, the Obama administration is pushing to ban Social Security beneficiaries from owning guns if they lack the mental capacity to manage their own affairs, a move that could affect millions whose monthly disability payments are handled by others.

The push is intended to bring the Social Security Administration in line with laws regulating who gets reported to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, which is used to prevent gun sales to felons, drug addicts, immigrants in the country illegally and others.

A potentially large group within Social Security are people who, in the language of federal gun laws, are unable to manage their own affairs due to "marked subnormal intelligence, or mental illness, incompetency, condition, or disease."

There is no simple way to identify that group, but a strategy used by the Department of Veterans Affairs since the creation of the background check system is reporting anyone who has been declared incompetent to manage pension or disability payments and assigned a fiduciary.

If Social Security, which has never participated in the background check system, uses the same standard as the VA, millions of its beneficiaries would be affected. About 4.2 million adults receive monthly benefits that are managed by "representative payees."

The move is part of a concerted effort by the Obama administration after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., to strengthen gun control, including by plugging holes in the background check system.

Last week, the Obama administration reiterated plans to push for policies in the Social Security Administration to place those who need a representative payee into the NICS no-buy background check system, stripping their Second Amendment rights without due process.

The Obama administration also posted online Friday a proposed regulation from the Social Security Administration that officials believe could help keep guns out of the hands of people who are not allowed to own a firearm because of mental illness.

A summary of the draft proposal said the Social Security Administration would identify people who receive disability payments because of mental impairment or because they are not competent to handle their own affairs, and would provide information on them to the Justice Department four times a year to include in the F.B.I.’s gun-purchase review system. The Social Security Administration would also notify those people — thought to total about 75,000 — that they are banned from buying or possessing a firearm under federal law.

Needing help to manage one's finances is not mental illness, despite the White House classifying it as such.

The use of the Social Security system to strip elderly persons of their Second Amendment rights when they apply for financial management help is alarming and legislation has been introduced to stop it. 

The Social Security Beneficiary 2nd Amendment Rights Protection Act, sponsored by Texas Congressman Sam Johnson, would prevent the agency from placing those who need financial help into the gun background check system. The legislation is waiting for a vote in Congress. 

In the meantime, the Obama administration is using federal agencies to implement unfair, unconstitutional policies that take away the Second Amendment rights of tens-of-thousands of Social Security recipients.