After eight years of governing by regulation and disregarding the Constitution, it’s no surprise that one of the Obama Administration’s final acts in office was to infringe upon the Constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens. That’s exactly what the Social Security Administration (SSA) did in December 2016, when the agency stepped outside the scope of its mission to finalize a rule that limits the 2nd Amendment rights of Americans who receive disability benefits.
The SSA’s rule wrongly and unfairly labels anyone receiving disability benefits due to a mental disability and receiving help managing benefits as “mentally defective.” As a result, the person’s name is reported to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System—a federal list of people who are not able to purchase firearms. This means that people with mental impairments such as eating disorders, or fears of being in a crowd or being outside of your home, can have their 2nd Amendment rights taken away if they also need help managing their benefits. In addition, people that get caught up by this rule aren’t given the option to appeal until after their names have been reported and their 2nd Amendment rights have already been stripped.
By doing this, the Social Security Administration is:
- Discriminating against individuals with disabilities by denying them their 2nd Amendment rights;
- Depriving individuals with disabilities their right to due process; and
- Not focusing on its real job—making sure Americans get the benefits they’ve earned.
As the American Psychological Association explained before the rule was finalized:
“We are concerned that the proposed rule seems to unfairly single out Social Security recipients with [serious mental illness], limiting it to those who have been deemed unable to manage their own affairs but with no assessment of dangerousness or potential for harm to self or others. This is stigmatizing and is counter to the Americans with Disabilities Act and its amendments, which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities, including people disabled by a mental illness.”
And as mental health advocates and legal scholars wrote in The Hill after the rule was finalized:
“Under recently finalized rules, millions of Americans with a disability, who have shown no propensity to harm others, could be barred from acquiring firearms. This regulation stigmatizes Social Security recipients with a disability who request help to manage their financial affairs. Even worse, it deprives them of their civil rights without due process of law.”
The House is taking action to roll back the Obama Administration’s executive overreach. Today, Social Security Subcommittee Chairman Sam Johnson (R-TX), along with Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-LA), and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), introduced companion joint resolutions to undo Obama’s sweeping rule and protect the 2nd Amendment rights of Social Security disability beneficiaries.
Upon introduction of the joint resolution in the House (H.J. Res. 40), Chairman Johnson said:
“While in office, former President Obama imposed rule after rule to deny Americans their Constitutional rights. He even went so far as to deprive law-abiding disability beneficiaries their 2nd Amendment rights. Just because somebody has a disability does not mean they’re a threat to society. Just because somebody needs help managing their benefits does not mean they are dangerous. I’m proud to introduce a resolution to undo this discriminatory rule against Americans with disabilities.”
This resolution has already received strong support from the independent federal agency, the National Council on Disability; and nonprofit organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Rights Task Force, the National Rifle Association, and more. That’s because no law-abiding citizen should be denied their 2nd Amendment rights. By undoing the work of unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats, Chairman Johnson is leading the charge in Congress to ensure the 2nd Amendment rights of all Americans are protected and preserved.
CLICK HERE to view letters of support for H.J. Res. 40.