President Obama is seeking to expand gun control through executive action and the back door. All it takes is a phone and a pen to potentially strip the Second Amendment from millions of citizens who have never committed a crime. In fact, the President is looking to equate anyone whose monthly Social Security disability payments is being handled by another (Alternate payee) in the same classification as drug addicts, felons or illegal immigrants. After all, who needs Constitutional protections when you can reinterpret the law through executive action and deny people their constitutional rights? The President is redefining the concept of gun control through expanded background checks by looking to existing federal law that restricts firearm ownership of citizens who are unable to manage their own affairs due to “marked subnormal intelligence, or mental illness, incompetency, condition, or disease.” This is where it starts to get murky and dangerous for the Second Amendment. What does “marked subnormal intelligence” mean? Mental illness? Condition? Disease? The administration or any bureaucrat can tailor the definition of any of those terms to criteria that would strip millions of their 2A rights. And where would it stop? After applying the new criteria to those receiving benefits from Social Security who would be the next target?
The plan to expand background checks is not new, but was not expanded to Social Security for a reason. The 2007 Virginia Tech murders marked 32 deaths by a man who had already been declared by the courts to be mentally ill and ordered to undergo outpatient treatment. At the time, the court order was insufficient to warrant mandatory inclusion into the nation’s database. The database, NICS or National Instant Criminal Background Check System, is a system for determining whether prospective firearms buyers are eligible to legally own or possess a firearm. It was enacted in the early 1990s after being mandated by the Brady Handgun Violence Act.
After Virginia Tech, Congress expanded the reporting requirements, but the Social Security Administration determined it was not required to submit records, according to LaVenia LaVelle, an agency spokeswoman. Now the President wants to force the Social Security Administration to do just that via executive action and without the input or consent of Congress.
Reasonably, there are a few naysayers; political spinsters from the gun control ranks that would accuse us of being radicals and conspiracy theorists. However, we can look to the government for our answers—specifically the Department of Government Affairs. How does the Department of Government Affairs define disease, condition or incompetency? It is not cut and dry, but certainly those suffering from mild forms of PTSD, stress or other traumatic injuries would fit the new criteria.
Currently, there are approximately 4.2 million adults receiving benefits that are managed by a “representative payees.” Taking that to a personal level, my grandmother who is in her 90s could no longer legally posses an heirloom firearm that belonged to my grandfather before he passed a few decades ago. A friend with severe arthritis who has his daughter handle his finances would be barred from ownership. The gentleman has not shot in probably 20 years due to his condition, but he is a semi-retired lawyer (i.e. he is still mentally competent to practice law) and has one helluva gun collection that is still growing. How is he suddenly incapable or unsafe to own a firearm?
Gun Control v. Gun Rights
The only people in favor of this plan have preconceived gun control agendas. Critics—not just gun rights activists—including mental health experts and advocates for the disabled have blasted the plan stating an expansion of the list of prohibited gun owners based on financial competence is wrongheaded and misinterprets the original meaning of the law. Difficulty balancing a checkbook should not be a reason to strip individuals of their Constitutional rights. Would we suspend their freedom of speech, protection from self-incrimination or force them quarter soldiers in their homes during peacetime under the same guise? The law was designed to prohibit ownership from someone who has shown a strong tendency or suspicion of being violent, unsafe or dangerous. However, instead of increasing safety and security, the law would have the effect of pushing those seeking treatment or benefits into the shadows—or worse, away from treatment altogether. I have had the pleasure of hunting with dozens of disabled or recovering veterans on industry-sponsored trips over the years. Some had severe disabilities from combat—mental or physical—but all had a strong desire to overcome and regain a sense of normalcy. If President Obama’s plan comes to fruition, memories such as these would be a thing of the past.
A Ray of Hope?
Republicans have introduced legislation to change the policy. The Veterans Second Amendment Protection Act, now under consideration in the House, would require a court to determine that somebody poses a danger before being reported to the background check system. It is time to crank up the machine and remind your congressional representatives that you support the Second Amendment and our veterans.