New Obama Gun Control Push: Taking Away Gun Rights of People Who Need Help Managing Social Security

Katie Pavlich
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Posted: Jul 20, 2015 2:15 PM
New Obama Gun Control Push: Taking Away Gun Rights of People Who Need Help Managing Social Security

If legislation fails, try for regulation. If regulation doesn't work, issue an executive order. 

A few months ago I wrote a story about the Obama administration putting veterans who need help with their finances on the no-buy list in the federal background check system. Some background:

Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder expressing deep concerns over Veterans Affairs evaluations classifying veterans as "mentally defective" and banning them in the federal background check system from purchasing or owning a firearm.

According to Grassley's office, the VA "reports individuals to the gun ban list if an individual merely needs financial assistance managing VA benefits," keeping them from exercising their Second Amendment rights. (Bolding is mine)

"The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) is effectively a national gun ban list and placement on the list precludes the ownership and possession of firearms. According to the Congressional Research Service, as of June 1, 2012, 99.3% of all names reported to the NICS list’s "mental defective” category were provided by the Veterans Administration (VA) even though reporting requirements apply to all federal agencies. And that percentage remained virtually unchanged as of April 2013. Given the numbers, it is essential to ensure that the process by which the VA reports names to the Department of Justice (DOJ) for placement on the NICS list recognizes and protects the fundamental nature of veterans’ rights under the Second Amendment," Grassley wrote in the letter. "Specifically, once the VA determines that a veteran requires a fiduciary to administer benefit payments, the VA reports that veteran to the gun ban list, consequently denying his or her right to possess and own firearms. In the past, the VA has attempted to justify its actions by relying on a single federal regulation, 38 C.F.R. § 3.353, which by its plain language grants limited authority to determine incompetence, but only in the context of financial matters: 'Ratings agencies have sole authority to make official determinations of competency and incompetency for purposes of: insurance and…disbursement of benefits.'"

The VA is placing veterans on the gun ban list without proper legal backing and is certainly engaged in over reach through this practice.
 

Now, the administration is planning to do the same with Social Security recipients who need financial help managing their benefits (benefits they paid into for decades, by the way). More 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.
What in the world do Social Security benefits have to do with Sandy Hook? Will using the Social Security system as a way to implement gun control prevent another Sandy Hook? The answer is no. The Obama administration announced earlier this year it would be pursuing new gun control measures by the end of the year. This is just the beginning.