Obama Takes Parting Shot at Gun Owners with Social Security Disarmament Ruling

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All smiles? Just don’t need help with your finances, gentlemen… (Photo: The White House)

Making “good” on a warning issued in this column a year-and-a-half ago, Barack Obama’s Social Security Administration issued its final ruling, reclassifying some of the most vulnerable citizens among us literally as “mental defectives,” and thus ineligible to own a gun. The ruling applies to recipients of disability insurance and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and virtually ignores over 91,000 public input comments, most condemning the move.

“[T]he SSA did not attempt to answer most of the legal questions raised about its authority,” the National Rifle Association observed. “Incredibly, the SSA also brushed aside empirical evidence the NRA submitted suggesting that the proposed rule would have no public safety benefit … The administration further acknowledges that the rule would not provide those subject to its terms the ability to defend their suitability to possess firearms before the actual loss of rights took place.”

This can happen because a citizen”adjudicated” by SSA* needs help managing finances, something everyone unable to decipher all the various federal, state and county/municipal tax codes and reporting requirements and schedules could well admit to. That can now be used to make certain these citizens are defenseless.

And that must be viewed across the backdrop of recent headlines such as:

We could go on, but the point has been made. And would a gun have made a difference in any of these reported incidents? The question should be “Whose decision is that to make?”

Americans who have not been adjudicated as posing a danger to themselves and others are being denied a fundamental right without the due process that would be afforded criminal suspects. Nor is it clear how rights could be restored, and how anyone in need of financial affairs assistance would even be able to afford a challenge or be in a position to try. Even less clear are incentives for “mental health professionals” to risk a liability lawsuit by giving officially-designated “prohibited persons” a clean bill of health – particularly noting the extreme anti-gun agenda dominating their profession.

What’s apparent is those in power positions representing themselves as “the government” want to disarm the citizenry and this is one way to make incremental gains toward that goal using a divide-and-conquer strategy. From the monopoly of violence point of view, disarming veterans makes sense, because these are people who have been trained to arms. And disarming all “civilians” of Social Security age who meet the arbitrary disqualifying criteria is another way to diminish a demographic that includes – or will include before too long – many, including Oath Keepers, who are among the strongest proponents of the right of the people to keep and bear arms

* Correction made in response to a Facebook critique by a former SSA adjudicator. I’ll be looking at this in light of that comment to see if further changes are warranted.

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UPDATE (Jan. 3, 2017):

Comment poster Kris makes several valuable clarifications about the way the process works from the perspective of someone who has worked as an SSA adjudicator. Per SSA’s final rule summary:
“We propose to implement provisions of the NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007 (NIAA) that require Federal agencies to provide relevant records to the Attorney General for inclusion in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Under the proposed rule, we would identify, on a prospective basis, individuals who receive Disability Insurance benefits under title II of the Social Security Act (Act) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments under title XVI of the Act and also meet certain other criteria, including an award of benefits based on a finding that the individual’s mental impairment meets or medically equals the requirements of section 12.00 of the Listing of Impairments (Listings) and receipt of benefits through a representative payee. We propose to provide pertinent information about these individuals to the Attorney General on not less than a quarterly basis. As required by the NIAA, at the commencement of the adjudication process we would also notify individuals, both orally and in writing, of their possible Federal prohibition on possessing or receiving firearms, the consequences of such inclusion, the criminal penalties for violating the Gun Control Act, and the availability of relief from the prohibitions imposed by Federal law. Finally, we also propose to establish a program that permits individuals to request relief from the Federal firearms prohibitions based on our adjudication. The proposed rule would allow us to fulfill responsibilities that we have under the NIAA.”
That was linked to in the above discussion but not elaborated on. In retrospect, that could have been more clearly presented.  He’s also correct when  he says “SSA’s disability program is available regardless of age.”
 
Two statements he makes point to the crux of my objections: “In short, while not adjudicated by a *court*…” and “Whether these prohibitions should exist in the first place is a different argument entirely…”
The crux of his objection appears to be my use of the word “arbitrary” when there are systems and procedures in place to “adjudicate.” The sense intended is included in the Merriam Webster definition. I submit that a system where the federal government assumes undelegated powers to include the power to regulate or deny that which “shall not be infringed” approximates that definition.
He may, of course, be right, that we’re talking exclusively about “padded room corner droolers and virtual carrots.” If that’s the case, why SSA feels the need to “propose to establish a program that permits individuals to request relief from the Federal firearms prohibitions based on our adjudication” becomes a meaningless sop rather than a serious policy consideration.
My main point is, that shouldn’t be a federal matter in the first place, and the determination needs to be made with equivalent protection of a jury trial. My follow-up point is that “getting ‘off’ the list once on and recovered from whatever disqualifying condition had taken place” has never been satisfactorily explained to ensure that it is just, affordable by all, and not subject to considerations including biases (arbitrary and otherwise) of those making such determinations.
I’m grateful for his insider perspective on how the process works. If and when this subject comes up again, Kris’ insights will definitely factor into how the information is presented.

About Author

David Codrea

David Codrea blogs at The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance (WarOnGuns.com), and is a field editor/columnist for GUNS Magazine. Named “Journalist of the Year” in 2011 by the Second Amendment Foundation for his groundbreaking work on the “Fast and Furious” ATF “gunwalking” scandal, he is a frequent event speaker and guest on national radio and television programs.