Obama’s Taking Our Guns!

The alarming headlines always follow when any discussion of gun control is raised. But on January 4, 2016, the topic of gun control and Social Security Disability intersected. President Obama announced several executive actions designed to curb gun violence last month. According to a fact sheet, the Social Security Administration was asked to report appropriate records to the National Instant Criminal Background System (NICS) of the approximately 75,000 people each year who have a documented mental health issue, receive disability benefits, and are unable to manage those benefits because of their mental impairment, or who have been found by a state or federal court to be legally incompetent.

This statement caused concern with disability rights groups. They stated that this suggested rule could deter individuals from applying for or receiving disability benefits. Importantly they also stated it would increase the stigma of mental illness and contribute to a perception that such conditions are related to a propensity for violence. And several Congressional Republicans also spoke out against President Obama’s proposal. They wanted to prohibit the Social Security Administration from reporting to the NICS any of its determinations to decide that a person is “mentally defective.”

Do disability rights groups and some Congressional Republicans have a point? Do privacy rights, preventing the stigma of violence being related to mental illness and the Second Amendment preclude Social Security from sharing this information? If someone is found mentally disabled by Social Security to the point that he/she is deemed to be unable to manage their own funds and is required a representative payee, does that information belong in the NICS? Should such a person be allowed to purchase firearms? What side of this argument do you fall on?

If you need help with disability benefits for physical or mental impairments, call Levine Benjamin for help with your claim.