The Obama Administration released a draft proposal on April 28 of a controversial new initiative to expand the Social Security Administration’s obligations for reporting people with disabilities to the federal firearm database.
The Gun Control Act of 1968 bars people from purchasing, shipping, transporting, receiving or possessing firearms if they been “committed to a mental institution” or “adjudicated as defective,” meaning that the person has been found be a “danger to themselves or others” or that he “lacks the mental capacity to contact or manage his own affairs.”
Last summer, the L.A. Times reported that the Obama Administration was working on new rules that would broaden the interpretation of the latter category. Specifically, it would require the SSA to hand over to the National Instant Criminal Background Check system the names of recipients of Social Security disability benefits whose finances are overseen by agency-approved representative payees.
The news sparked widespread opposition from disability advocates, who viewed the bill as overly broad. In addition, multiple representatives have introduced legislation to block it.
While not as expansive as originally reported, the proposal would include the person’s designation in the representative payee system as a factor for determining whether the SSA would report the beneficiary’s name to the NICS. The other four factors in the proposed five-factor framework all center on the person’s medical impairment.
Those whose names are reported to the NICS will receive oral and written notice, the proposal states.
Finally, the proposal states that people barred from obtaining firearms through this process would have the option to later seek relief in a federal district court to regain their Second Amendment rights.
With the proposal, the SSA’s procedures would move in line with the system already used by the Department of Veterans Affairs, which regularly reports names the NICS of people receiving veterans benefits whose benefits are overseen by its own system of representative payees.
The SSA estimated the proposal would impact about 75,000 individuals.
The public has 60 days to comment on the proposal.