As part of the ongoing administration efforts to at least dampen the feverish pace of gun violence in America, the White House
is looking toward the Social Security rolls
Seeking tighter controls over firearm purchases, the Obama administration is pushing to ban Social Security beneficiaries from owning guns if they lack the mental capacity to manage their own affairs, a move that could affect millions whose monthly disability payments are handled by others.
The goal is to update the nation's background check system to include those with dementia or other impairments that would hinder their judgment in ways that would suggest they ought not have ready access to deadly weapons. The difficulty is that those specific people aren't directly singled out in the Social Security databases. There's only the much broader category of people who are "unable to manage their own [financial] affairs," and while that is all Social Security administrators need to know in order to route the checks correctly, that's not necessarily the same thing as having impaired judgment in general.
Though such a ban would keep at least some people who pose a danger to themselves or others from owning guns, the strategy undoubtedly would also include numerous people who may just have a bad memory or difficulty balancing a checkbook, the critics argue.
"Someone can be incapable of managing their funds but not be dangerous, violent or unsafe," said Dr. Marc Rosen, a Yale psychiatrist who has studied how veterans with mental health problems manage their money. "They are very different determinations."
If adopted as policy, the addition of Social Security information to the background check system would parallel the system already put in place by the Veterans Administration. There, too, the criteria for inclusion is having an appointed financial representative, but veterans may appeal and be removed from that list if their individual circumstances warrant. It should be noted that this appeals process is used only very rarely—the vast majority of those affected do not challenge the firearms restrictions.
Nonetheless, the NRA is of course in full meltdown mode over this "nullification of Second Amendment rights" so this will likely become an all-out congressional war soon enough. It is, after all, election season.
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