Social Security Vs. Seniors' Second Amendment Rights

posted on February 9, 2016

A few years before he passed away after suffering a stroke, my dad moved from New York to Virginia to be closer to me, where I could help him and look after him.

His stroke not only ended his lifelong love of reading—I believe it did something to his brain or eyesight that made printed material difficult to understand—but also apparently made him more gullible. 

“Why would my bank call me and want me to verify my account number?” he asked me one day. 

“It’s a scam, Dad. It’s been all over the papers and the Internet,” I told him. “Your bank already knows your account number.” 

That happened more than once. In his final years, Dad became an ideal mark for con-men of all kinds, from the hucksters of late-night infomercials to the “bank employees” on the telephone. 

None of the thieves ever successfully scammed him. But that was mainly luck, I think. Obama’s Social Security gun ban amounts to an ultimatum: “Your money … or your life.”

In retrospect, I wonder whether Dad should have handed over his checkbook and financial affairs to me or one of my siblings. But I guess he was too proud to ask for help, and we were too hesitant to ask him to give up what little autonomy he still had. 

But here’s my point: Today, there are millions of Americans just like my dad who, for whatever reason—age, infirmity, memory loss or just to appease their children—have handed over the responsibility for their financial affairs to a family member or friend.

Maybe, as with my dad, they’re too trusting for their own good. Maybe they have trouble balancing a checkbook, or handling money with enough diligence.

That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re unfit to own a firearm. 

But in the Obama administration’s latest scheme to “transform” America into a non-gun-owning country, the Social Security Administration is now planning to add the names of many SSI beneficiaries to the National Instant Check System (NICS) as “prohibited persons” who are barred from buying, possessing or owning firearms. 

It’s the same scheme Obama’s Veterans Administration (VA) has already used to deny the gun rights of about 177,000 veterans and survivors of veterans, and its only criterion for doing so is whether those former GIs and family members have been appointed a fiduciary—someone to help them with their financial affairs. 

As the Los Angeles Times reported

“If Social Security, which has never participated in the background check system, uses the same standard as the VA, millions of its beneficiaries would be affected. About 4.2 million adults receive monthly benefits that are managed by ‘representative payees.’” 

You know, it’s one thing to try to protect someone who’s mentally incompetent, or who poses a danger to himself or others. But it’s something else entirely for the president to deny the right to self-defense to millions of honest, law-abiding seniors—who pose no threat to themselves or anyone else—simply because he can. 

Indeed, for those who don’t have the luxury of living in guarded, gated communities—ordinary Americans who can’t afford the 24/7/365 security that President Obama, Michael Bloomberg, and the media and political elites take as their due—Obama’s Social Security gun ban amounts to an ultimatum: “Your money … or your life.”

Worse yet, once you’re tattooed as a “prohibited person” barred from firearm ownership in the NICS system, reclaiming your rights can be almost impossible.

Under the Veterans Administration scheme, there’s almost no judicial oversight, and therefore no due process, involved in blackballing a VA beneficiary from owning a gun. All that’s necessary is for there to be an appointed fiduciary for that person. 

What little due process that does exist in the scheme to deny civil rights is only after the fact.

Since 2008, VA beneficiaries who have been wrongly barred from firearm ownership can file an appeal to “prove” they pose no threat. 

But even if someone who’s unable to manage their financial affairs can somehow navigate the bureaucracy, absorb all the expenses of mental health evaluations and jump through all the hoops successfully, relief is rarely granted: In seven years, VA saw fit to grant relief to just nine out of 298 appeals—only three percent. 

It’s not hard to understand why. For one thing, how many mental-health professionals would be willing, in our lawsuit-happy society, to risk liability by reversing a gun ban imposed by the VA or SSA to certify that John Doe or Bill Smith is perfectly “safe” to own a gun? What doctor would want to take that risk? 

What’s more, this ban is sure to have unintended consequences in addition to leaving senior citizens disarmed and defenseless against criminals. As Yale psychiatrist Dr. Marc Rosen told the Los Angeles Times, some people may avoid seeking help for mental health problems for fear of having their guns taken away. Old age or a disability does not make someone a threat. These folks should be able to defend themselves just like everyone else, and Social Security has no business stripping them of that right.” —Congressman Sam Johnson, R-Texas

So while Obama’s Social Security gun ban would disarm countless people whose only form of “incompetence” might be in balancing a checkbook—as Dr. Rosen said, “Someone can be incapable of managing their funds but not be dangerous, violent or unsafe”—the scheme wouldn’t necessarily disarm those who might have significant mental health issues, since they might avoid the diagnosis that deems them unfit.

In other words, everybody loses. 

The bottom line to this scheme is that it will unconstitutionally deny a fundamental civil right to countless perfectly lawful, safe and sane senior citizens, while denying them the same due-process rights guaranteed to criminal defendants. 

That’s just wrong

I believe my father—who served his country in World War II, who handled firearms his entire life, and who was the safest hunter I ever spent time with in the woods—would have been furious about this latest Obama scheme. 

A few months after he’d moved in with me, Dad’s health had improved enough from the stroke that he was able to find a home of his own down the street from me, where he could regain some independence while having me nearby when he needed my help. 

After he was moved in and settled, he asked me to bring over his Browning over-and-under. His hunting days were over, and even though he might not have been able to use it if someone broke in, it gave him peace of mind. It was one of his most prized possessions, I believe. 

Of course I brought him his gun. He posed no threat to himself or anyone else. What gave me—or anyone else—the authority to deny him his right to defend himself? 

It’s bad enough that scammers tried to trick my dad so they could steal his life savings. 

But when an American president tries to unilaterally, unconstitutionally steal the most fundamental freedom—the freedom to fight back—from millions of lawful, peaceful, safe senior citizens just like my dad, just because they can’t fight back, that’s an abomination.

Use Your Power!

U.S. Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Texas, has introduced H.R. 3516 to stop the administration’s attempt to revoke the rights of millions of Social Security beneficiaries. “Old age or a disability does not make someone a threat to society,” Rep. Johnson said. “These folks should be able to defend themselves just like everyone else, and Social Security has no business stripping them of that right.” Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 to contact your urge your representative and senators them to stop this shameful Obama.


U.S. Capitol building
U.S. Capitol building

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