The House continued to dismantle Obama’s legacy one item at a time, when on Thursday it struck down regulations that blocked gun ownership by some who have been deemed mentally impaired by the Social Security Administration.
The House voted 235-180 along party lines Thursday to repeal an Obama-era rule requiring the Social Security Administration to send records of some beneficiaries to the federal firearms background check system if their benefits finances’ are handled by a 3rd party.
The rule, when implemented, would affect about 75,000 recipients of disability insurance and supplemental insurance income who require a representative to manage their benefits. It applies to those between age 18 and full retirement age. Critics said the rule stripped Second Amendment rights from people who are not dangerously mentally ill, such as those who have eating disorders.
The National Rifle Association opposed the rule. While the group says it supports keeping guns away from the mentally ill, it said the determination about who is mentally ill should be left to the courts. “The Obama administration’s last minute, back-door gun grab would have stripped law-abiding Americans of their Second Amendment rights without due process,” said Chris Cox, the NRA’s top lobbyist.
Supporters of the rule said the step was necessary to keep guns away from people who suffer from things such as anxiety. Democrats agreed the government must not stigmatize those with disabilities but said this rule affects a small group with severe, long-term mental disorders preventing them from doing any work. Passage of the resolution puts others at risk, they said.
“These are not just people having a bad day,” said Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif. “These are not people simply suffering from depression or anxiety. These are people with a severe mental illness who can’t hold any kind of job or make any decisions about their affairs. So the law says very clearly they shouldn’t have a firearm.”
According to The Hill, Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.) accused Republicans of weakening the background check system. “The House charged ahead with an extreme, hastily written, one-sided measure that would make the American people less safe,” she said. The Social Security Administration rule would have reported the disability recipients with severe mental disorders to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System. House Republicans turned to the Congressional Review Act to overturn the regulation.