Social Security releases final rule to strip gun rights from some beneficiaries

The Social Security Administration released its final plan of how it will identify some recipients for bans on possessing and acquiring firearms.

The rule, published in the Federal Register on Dec. 19, will identify certain individuals receiving benefits to be reported to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, the database federal firearms licensed dealers use to determine whether a prospective buyer is eligible to buy firearms and/or explosives. This would effectively make them a prohibited firearms possessor.

The new rule, as outlined by Second Amendment attorney Adam Kraut, will use a five-step process to determine whom SSA will report to the FBI.

The process will identify those “adjudicated as a mental defective” by the agency after a disability claim that meets a list of mental disorders or impairments. The individual would have to be at least 18 and under retirement age. Finally, after matching the other conditions, the beneficiary would have to receive their benefits through a representative payee approved by the agency due to being incapable of managing his or her own payments.

Those whose names are forwarded to the NICS system will receive a notice from Social Security beforehand. Beneficiaries who lose their rights would have to petition to have them restored.

First broached last July in what the National Rifle Association termed the “largest gun grab in American history,” President Obama called on the SSA in January to advance the rulemaking process that could see as many as 75,000 individuals per year reported to the FBI.

While Republican lawmakers have vowed to block the move and even introduced legislation to protect Social Security beneficiaries from losing their Second Amendment rights, the measures have gained little traction.

The rule, proposed in April, drew over 91,000 comments, many of them critical of the move. The final rule is set to become effective on Jan. 18. However, compliance is not required until Dec. 19, 2017, with new disability applicants screened after that date and those already in the system checked on their next regular renewals.