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Obama Seeks To Ban Gun Ownership For Millions Of Social Security Recipients

Obama Seeks To Ban Gun Ownership For Millions Of Social Security Recipients

Photo credit: Dimitri Otis and Jrroman

It’s now in black and white in the Federal Register: President Barack Obama wants to ban firearm ownership for millions of Americans who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments or Disability Insurance benefits under the Social Security Act. 

In the biggest gun grab in American history, the Obama White House wants to retroactively nullify the Second Amendment rights of millions of Americans who receive Social Security benefits, who get those payments through “representative payees.”

As the Los Angeles Times reported in July, this new proposed gun ban tracks with what the Obama administration has already done to disarm American veterans through the Veterans Administration: If you receive benefits, and if for whatever reason, you have been assigned a “fiduciary”—in other words, someone who helps you manage your financial affairs, whether it’s balancing your checkbook or depositing checks in your account—then your gun rights are gone. 

Under the Social Security Administration’s proposed implementation of the same scheme, if such a beneficiary has a “representative payee,” then their right to keep and bear arms would be nullified, as well. Proposed rule could ban gun ownership by millions through executive fiat.

As the L.A. Times pointed out, this wholesale revocation of the right to keep and bear arms for an entire class of people casts an extraordinarily wide net. Yale psychiatrist Dr. Marc Rosen told the Times, “Someone can be incapable of managing their funds but not be dangerous, violent or unsafe. They are very different determinations.” 

Under the proposed rule published May 5 in the Federal Register:

“... we would identify, on a prospective basis, individuals who receive Disability Insurance benefits ... or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments ... and also meet certain other criteria, including an award of benefits based on a finding that the individual’s mental impairment meets or medically equals the requirements of section 12.00 of the Listing of Impairments (Listings) and receipt of benefits through a representative payee.”

Once those individuals were identified, they would be reported to the National Instant Check System (NICS) “on not less than a quarterly basis” as prohibited persons barred from purchasing, owning or even using firearms, and: 

 “We would also notify individuals, both orally and in writing, of their possible Federal prohibition on possessing or receiving firearms, the consequences of such inclusion, [and] the criminal penalties for violating the Gun Control Act ...” 

As the Times pointed out, 2.7 million Americans currently receive Social Security disability payments for so-called “mental impairment,” and 1.5 million have assistance with their financial affairs through “representative payees.” That’s at least 4.2 million Americans receiving Social Security benefits—and possibly more—who could lose their right to keep and bear arms to protect themselves and their families. 

Ari Ne’eman, who sits on the federal National Council on Disability, said that group would oppose any federal rule change that used the existence of a representative payee as a reason to deny fundamental rights. “The rep payee is an extraordinarily broad brush,” Ne’eman told the Los Angeles Times

Here’s the tricky part, at least right now. Unless you’re a Philadelphia lawyer or someone fluent in the language of Washington bureaucratese, it’s not easy to figure out in advance, who, exactly, will fall under such a ban.

Once you start wading into the wilderness of the Federal Register—as we did—to try to sort out exactly who will be banned from owning firearms, several things strike you: 

First, the regulations are so voluminous and impossibly impenetrable (and changing all the time) that it’s hard to figure out where even to begin your search.

Second, even after you identify one of the groups whose rights will be nullified—for example, those whose “mental impairment meets or medically equals the requirements of section 12.00 of the Listing of Impairments”—when you finally find and read that section of the Federal Register, the definitions spiral off into an undefined infinity where (for example) having “odd beliefs” can qualify you as having a “personality disorder” ... or where “sleep disturbance, fatigue or panic attacks” qualifies you as having an “anxiety disorder” ... or having “poor conceptual, social and practical skills” qualifies you for having an “intellectual disability.” It goes on and on, with the terms getting vaguer and more subjective the deeper you wade. Another scheme to deny the right to arms to as many people, for as many reasons, as often and as permanently as possible.

Just as the psychiatrists’ bible of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) has grown under the pressure of disease mongering—so that everyone gets their own mental “disorder” and everyone gets a pill—you can bet the number of disqualifying characteristics for lawful gun ownership will grow as fast as anyone can justify them. 

And just because you’re not on the “Listings” today doesn’t mean you won’t have your rights denied tomorrow. As Dr. Allen J. Frances notes in a Psychology Today article headlined “Psychiatric Fads and Overdiagnosis”: 

“The NIMH estimates that, in any given year, 25 percent of the population has a diagnosable mental disorder. A prospective study found that, by age 32, 50 percent of the general population had qualified for an anxiety disorder, 40 percent for a depression, and 30 percent for alcohol abuse or dependence. Imagine what the rates will be like by the time these people hit 50, or 65, or 80. In this brave new world of psychiatric overdiagnosis, will anyone get through life without a mental disorder?”

Disarming dangerous, mentally ill people is one thing. This is something an order larger. 

If someone is mentally ill and presents a danger to him- or herself or others, no one wants to see that person have access to firearms. That goes without saying. No one benefits from the tragedies that can result except the anti-gun lobby, which often exploits them. The rest of us suffer, not just with our safety and loss but also, thanks to Obama’s SSI and VA schemes, with our ability to protect ourselves from those very dangerous people. That’s wrong. 

But this isn’t about keeping guns away from the mentally ill. It’s about denying the right to keep and bear arms to as many people, for as many reasons, in as many places, in as many ways, as often and as permanently as they possibly can. 

It’s part of a bigger trend, where politicians seek to take away the gun rights of ever more people—not just through the diagnosis of a medical professional, but also with little more than hearsay, as they’re pushing to do in California now.

And it’s just one of the ways Obama is going around the law to make new law—just as the NRA warned he would do in his last months in office. 

But Obama’s scheme isn’t just the biggest gun grab by an American president in history. 

For President Obama, who said his failure to win gun control is the “biggest frustration” of his presidency, to turn around now and bend the law into knots to disarm countless Americans who pose no threat—just so he can leave behind a blob of regulations for decades of lawyers to try to disentangle, despite the legislative process and regardless of how many good people are needlessly left defenseless—is more than arrogant. It’s a downright embarrassment. 

In the end, your best way to fight back may be to contact your U.S. senators and representative. Urge them to oppose Obama’s Social Security gun grab. Americans who pose no threat to anyone should not have their most fundamental right—the right that gives us the ability to survive criminal attack—denied by hearsay, financial incompetence or a president’s arrogance. 

Most importantly, get registered to vote, and on Nov. 3, cast your vote. If Hillary Clinton wins the White House, you can bet she’ll push through schemes like this that make Obama look like an amateur.

Use Your Power!

Right now, Obama’s proposed rule is open for public comment until July 5, 2016. You can submit your comments by clicking here.

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