Obama Administration looks to limit gun access for Social Security beneficiaries

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New Proposal to Limit Access to Firearms

The Los Angeles Times reported July 18 that the Obama Administration is working on a new proposal that would restrict Second Amendment rights for people receiving Social Security disability benefits who are unable to manage their own finances.

Under Social Security regulations, people who lack the intellectual capacity to manage their Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income benefits are appointed fiduciaries, otherwise known as representative payees.

Under the proposal, which has not yet been made public, the Social Security Administration would report names in this category to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. The rationale is that if a person lacks the mental capacity to manage their finances, they should also not be able to possess firearms.

The proposal would build on an existing system used by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Since the creation of the national background check system in 1993, the VA has reported individuals who have been “adjudicated as a mental defective,” of which the sole criterion is that they have been appointed a fiduciary.

Some disability rights advocates are already pushing back. Ari Ne’eman, a member of the National Council on Disability, said the NCD would oppose any effort to restrict Second Amendment rights solely on the basis that an individual has been appointed a fiduciary.

“The rep payee is an extraordinarily broad brush,” he told the L.A. Times.

For years, gun rights advocates have pushed back against the VA’s regulations, which now lists 177,000 veterans in the system.

The Veterans Second Amendment Protection Act, which would block the VA from reporting names using this criterion, has previously passed in the House of Representatives, but remains stalled in the Senate. In 2013, when the Congress considered a range of gun-related measures in wake of the Sandy Hook Massacre, the bill received 56 votes, falling short of the 60 votes necessary for passage.