The Social Security Administration, or SSA, issued a new rule that will block certain Social Security beneficiaries from buying guns. The new policy will classify these beneficiaries as “mental defectives” receiving disability insurance or Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, benefits. This new policy is in-line with the White House’s promise to deliver new gun control policies through executive action.
The rule was proposed back in May of this year and will take effect on Jan. 18, 2017. The controversial new policy is part of the White House’s Executive Actions to Reduce Gun Violence and Make Our Communities Safer plan.
“On Monday, Barack Obama’s SSA issued the final version of a rule that will doom tens of thousands of law-abiding (and vulnerable) disability insurance and SSI recipients to a loss of Second Amendment rights under the guise of re-characterizing them as ‘mental defectives,'” explains the NRA-ILA. “The SSA, for the first time in its history, will be coopted into the federal government’s gun control apparatus, effectively requiring Social Security applicants to weigh their need for benefits against their fundamental rights when applying for assistance based on mental health problems.”
“The Social Security rule is the final version of a proposal that we reported on earlier this year,” reads the statement. “Public outcry against the proposed rule was fierce, and the comment period drew over 91,000 responses, the vast majority of them opposing the plan.”
“The NRA itself submitted detailed comments, taking the proposed rule to task for its many legal problems, its lack of empirical support, and the way it would politicize the SSA’s functions and stigmatize its beneficiaries.”
The NRA-ILA adds that policymakers made no attempt to answer any of their legal questions surrounding the sweeping new policy. The SSA even acknowledged that the new policy was not tied to reducing violence or crime.
“We are not attempting to imply a connection between mental illness and a propensity for violence, particularly gun violence,” said the SSA. “Rather, we are complying with our obligations under the NIAA, which require us to provide information from our records when an individual falls within one of the categories identified in [the law].”
The NRA-ILA described the change as “arbitrary and capricious” and they’re not alone coming out against the policy. The National Association for Gun Rights, or NAGR, came out hard against the new rule.
“No excuse justifies stripping law-abiding Americans’ Second Amendment rights without due process and trial,” said NAGR president Dudley Brown. “The procedures set forth by the Social Security Administration are a gross violation of the Constitutional right to due process and separation of powers.”
“First they came for the gun rights of perfectly healthy military veterans who have served honorably. Now they’re coming for the rights of sound and healthy senior citizens and others least able to fight back against oppressive Federal bureaucrats” said Brown. “Congress and President Trump must put a stop to it.”
“[Trump] can reverse this anti-gun executive action immediately upon taking office on January 20.”
Until this policy is repealed or corrected, beneficiaries affected by the new rule will have to petition to have their rights restored before they can continue to exercise their Second Amendment rights. How much this process will cost beneficiaries is not known. And what may be a “reasonable” expense to the SSA may be prohibitive for the people affected by this rule.