Congress to reverse Obama Social Security gun ban

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The Social Security Administration’s main campus in Woodlawn, Maryland. (Photo: Dennis Brack/Bloomberg News)

Congress is gearing up to undo an Obama-backed rule that would ban some Social Security recipients from owning firearms — an effort that’s garnered outrage from the pro-gun community and others.

The rule, which took effect last week, but isn’t subject to mandatory compliance until later this year, would see the Social Security Administration report specific beneficiaries to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, making them prohibited firearm purchasers. It applies to disability insurance and supplemental security recipients who need someone to manage their finances due to a mental disorder. Now, using the Congressional Review Act, which allows the dismissal of Obama’s action, the Republican-controlled Congress is working to reverse the rule.

The NRA is celebrating.

“Congress’s decision to review the Obama administration’s back-door gun grab is a significant step forward in protecting a fundamental constitutional right for law-abiding gun owners,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director, NRA-ILA. “The NRA has been fighting this unconstitutional government overreach since it was first discussed and we look forward to swift congressional action.”

The Obama administration conceived of the rule in the wake of the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting. Gun groups cried foul from the get-go, and several others have followed suit in recent weeks.

“We must not respond to gun violence by scapegoating the disability community,” wrote a group of lawyers and scholars this week who oppose the rule. “Regardless of what one thinks of the overall gun control agenda, it is unconscionable to stigmatize and impose this onerous burden on innocent Americans with disabilities.”

“What is next? Keeping guns away from people who can’t drive or do math? What about other rights? Should ‘financially incompetent’ people be forbidden from voting or making other decisions?” wrote pro-gun researcher John Lott earlier this month.

There were more than 91,000 comments posted to a feedback forum about the rule, which is hosted by the federal government, and many of them were critical. But the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence posted a comment saying the rule didn’t go far enough.

“We encourage the SSA to consider ways to expand the rule to include those beneficiaries who pose a danger to themselves or others, regardless of whether their payments are made to a third party representative,” wrote Senior National Policy Director Brian Malte for the Brady Campaign in July.

“Ninety-three percent of Americans support Brady background checks that keep guns out of the dangerous hands,” said Kris Brown, the campaign’s policy director, in a statement this week. “Repealing this rule undermines that consensus and undermines laws already on the books.”

The Obama administration estimated that some 75,000 people would have been reported to the FBI each year under the rule. Congress is expected to take up legislation that would reverse its course as early as next week.