Thursday, 23 February, 2017

Congress blocks rule barring mentally impaired from purchasing guns

Senate moves forward on repeal of Obama administration Social Security gun rule Breaking: Senate Passes Bill to Allow Severely Mentally Impaired People to Buy Guns
Erik Tate | 16 February, 2017, 01:21

The 57-43 roll call Wednesday by which the Senate blocked an Obama-era rule created to keep guns out of the hands of certain mentally disabled people. The legislation will go to President Trump's desk, where he is expected to sign it.

At the end of his term, President Obama mandated the Social Security Administration hand the Federal Bureau of Investigation info on any person with a "documented mental health issue" who can't manage their disability benefits without a representative. All 43 votes against revoking the rule were cast by Democratic senators. Those who have been deemed mentally incapable of managing their financial affairs - roughly 75,000 people - would have been affected by the rule, according to NPR's Susan Davis.

Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa has decried the rule.

While framing the regulation as something that prevents "mentally incompetent people from buying guns" may make it sound like common sense, the reality - as KSHB notes - is that "the debate isn't so cut-and-dry".

The House voted earlier this month to rescind the same rule.

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"Today's Senate vote was the next step in rolling back some of the egregious government overreach that characterized the Obama era", Chris W. Cox, executive director of the NRA, said in a statement. "As Yale's Dr. Mark Rosen observed when the rule was first adumbrated, the link between financial acumen and mental illness is extraordinarily weak: "'Someone can be incapable of managing their funds but not be risky, violent or unsafe, ' said Dr. Marc Rosen, a Yale psychiatrist who has studied how veterans with mental health problems manage their money.

Grassley claimed the regulation unfairly stigmatizes people with disabilities and noted it was opposed by more than 20 disability and civil rights groups.

The rule, meant to strengthen gun background check laws, was created in the final months of President Barack Obama's administration.

But supporters of the rule note that a hearing is required to establish the need for a representative payee for social security benefits, and anyone who thinks they've been reported to the firearm background check system in error has the right to appeal.

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