One of the final acts of the Obama administration was the writing of a new rule that required the Social Security Administration to report certain information to the FBI regarding the benefits received by senior citizens.
Specifically, the rule required that any person who designated another person to manage their finances due to a mental disability would be prohibited from purchasing a firearm.
Earlier this month, the House of Representatives voted 235-180 to roll back the rule under the Congressional Review Act. Today, the Senate voted to block the measure as well.
BREAKING: Senate votes to block Obama-era rule preventing mentally impaired Social Security recipients from buying guns.
— AP Politics (@AP_Politics) February 15, 2017
The resolution required a simple majority in Congress, and now it will go on to the President for signature (which he probably will sign).
The measure received intense criticism from gun rights groups like the NRA, but also from the American Civil Liberties Union as well.
Part of the issue with the order is that it involves an emotionally charged issue: allegedly mentally ill people having firearms. Many mass shootings have been carried out by people who have mental illnesses. There certainly are people that should not have access to firearms, but at the same time the Constitution cannot be ignored under the guise of public safety.
The problem with the Obama regulation is that these people’s right of due process of law was subverted; hence, the opposition from the ACLU.
In a letter to the House Ways and Means Committee, the ACLU wrote:
We oppose this rule because it advances and reinforces the harmful stereotype that people with mental disabilities, a vast and diverse group of citizens, are violent. There is no data to support a connection between the need for a representative payee to manage one’s Social Security disability benefits and a propensity toward gun violence. The rule further demonstrates the damaging phenomenon of “spread,” or the perception that a disabled individual with one area of impairment automatically has additional, negative and unrelated attributes. Here, the rule automatically conflates one disability-related characteristic, that is, difficulty managing money, with the inability to safely possess a firearm.
The due process clause of the Fifth Amendment states that “No person shall be … be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” Meaning, a person can be deprived of fundamental rights, but only through a judicial process and not by the whim of the Executive Branch.
The regulation created by the Obama administration subverted this right because a person would be deprived of their Second Amendment rights if they designated a person to be responsible for their finances due to a mental handicap.
However, in order to deprive someone of liberty, due process of law must be observed. That means there must be a judicial process for depriving someone of their rights, where the facts of the case in their entirety are considered.
In the same way the the government cannot prevent individuals on secret watch lists from purchasing guns, because of the subversion of due process, the same principle applies to the Social Security gun ban as well.
If someone is going to have their right to bear arms revoked, it can only be done in a court of law, and not by the Executive Branch. Not to mention that the ATF 4473 form already addresses the issue of mental illness. If a person is adjudicated as mentally deficient, they cannot buy a firearm already.
The rule just went a step too far in determining who can and cannot purchase a firearm.