Georgia’s Senators Johnny Isakson and David Perdue have both voted to repeal a rule change from the Obama era requiring the Social Security Administration to search its records “…and report people receiving disability benefits or supplemental income payments and who had someone else managing their finances, deeming them a “mental defective…”
In a statement, Sen. Isakson said, “I have long criticized the Department of Veterans Affairs for having a similar process that fails to respect veterans’ due-process rights, and I urge my colleagues to overturn this blanket restriction that effectively bans persons receiving disability benefits from purchasing firearms for no good reason.”
Before the week is out, you will hear a lot of melting down from the anti-gun left, essentially accusing the GOP of wanting crazy people to have guns. As that shriek-fest unfolds, we will miss out on a chance for genuine public debate on how to best restrict the rights of the mentally ill. But before we all agree that crazy people shouldn’t have guns, (and we do) we need to agree on what it is that makes someone crazy.
And before the accusations that this is something only the gun-nut fringe cares about, here’s what the ACLU had to say:
“There is no data to support a connection between the need for a representative payee to manage one’s Social Security disability benefits and a propensity toward gun violence. The rule further demonstrates the damaging phenomenon of ‘spread,’ or the perception that a disabled individual with one area of impairment automatically has additional, negative and unrelated attributes. Here, the rule automatically conflates one disability-related characteristic, that is, difficulty managing money, with the inability to safely possess a firearm.”
There was also this from the National Council on Disability: “NCD is a nonpartisan, independent federal agency with no stated position with respect to gun-ownership or gun-control other than our long-held position that restrictions on gun possession or ownership based on psychiatric or intellectual disability must be based on a verifiable concern as to whether the individual poses a heightened risk of danger to themselves or others if they are in possession of a weapon. Additionally, it is critically important that any restriction on gun possession or ownership on this basis is imposed only after the individual has been afforded due process and given an opportunity to respond to allegations that they are not able to safely possess or own a firearm due to his or her disability. NCD believes that SSA’s final rule falls far short of meeting these criteria.”
Every responsible gun owner in America believes that if you’re mentally unstable or too dangerous to be allowed on a plane, you shouldn’t be able to get your hands on a gun. But honest debate demands that the public know exactly how someone is adjudged a mental defective –or a potential terrorist- before we start taking away their rights.