Senate Votes To Let Mentally Ill People Buy Guns

Camille RiveraFeb 16 , 2017

It voted 57 to 43 to strike down a regulation requiring the Social Security Administration to report those with mental health conditions who receive disability benefits to the Federal Bureau of Investigation background check system.

Around 75,000 people are estimated to be affected by this rule.

Republicans argued the rule, which was vigorously opposed by gun-rights and disability groups, would unfairly stigmatize people with disabilities and strip them of their Second Amendment rights without due process.

The Obama rule holds that the Social Security Administration must report anyone who requires third-party assistance to manage their Social Security benefits is placed on the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS. And since the House of Representatives also voted to roll back the rule two weeks ago, the measure - originally enacted in December under Barack Obama - now goes to Donald Trump's desk.

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Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Charles Grassley said the regulation would result in "a national gun ban list".

"If you can't manage your own financial affairs, how can we expect that you're going to be a responsible steward of a risky, lethal firearm", he said.

"This heartless resolution puts the most vulnerable Americans at risk", said Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. But Grassley said federal law requires a formal hearing and judgment before depriving someone of owning a firearm due to mental illness.

"The Second Amendment, as a fundamental right, requires the government to carry the burden to show a person has risky mental illness", he said.

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"The regulation at issue here was issued by the Social Security Administration under President Obama". "This regulation obviously and simply does not achieve that".

Republicans in Congress are moving quickly to dismantle Obama-era rules through use of the Congressional Review Act; the act allows a simple majority in each chamber, instead of 60 votes in the Senate, to reverse a rule.

The NAACP, the United States Conference of Mayors and the National League of Cities supported the Social Security Administration's efforts.

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