The Social Security Administration (SSA)has released details on the looming gun ban which was first discovered at it was being fashioned behind closed doors in July 2015.
Details of the ban seeped out over the next few months then it formerly introduced by President Obama on January 5, 2016.
On July 18 the Los Angeles Times reported that the ban would apply to SSA beneficiaries who are ruled mentally deficient or labeled with a “mental illness” moniker. Once categorized as having mental health problems the beneficiaries would be reported to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and added to the prohibited persons list, thereafter barred from purchasing guns.
According to the Times, one of the measures of mental health stability would be whether beneficiaries could handle their own finances or not. Based on this measure alone up to “4.2 million” SSA beneficiaries were believed to be susceptible to losing their Second Amendment rights because they have other people handle their finances for them.
Current law prohibits individuals from buying a gun if, because of a mental health issue, they are either a danger to themselves or others or are unable to manage their own affairs. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has indicated that it will begin the rulemaking process to ensure that appropriate information in its records is reported to NICS. The reporting that SSA, in consultation with the Department of Justice, is expected to require will cover appropriate records 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. The rule-making will also provide a mechanism for people to seek relief from the federal prohibition on possessing a firearm for reasons related to mental health.
And now the SSA has released details making it clear that beneficiaries who do not receive benefits themselves–but have them sent to someone who manages finances for them–take the risk of afoul of the SSA and being prohibited from purchasing guns.
On pages 19 of the SSA’s 41-page overview of the gun ban, we read:
Under our representative payee policy, unless direct payment is prohibited, we presume that an adult beneficiary is capable of managing or directing the management of benefits. However, if we have information that the beneficiary has a mental or physical impairment that prevents him or her from managing or directing the management of benefits, we will develop the issue of capability. If a beneficiary has a mental impairment, we will develop the capability issue if there is an indication that the beneficiary may lack the ability to reason properly, is disoriented, has seriously impaired judgment, or is unable to communicate with others.
Once the beneficiary has the SSA’s attention–by having someone help with finances–the process of determining mental health status begins, becoming incrementally intrusive. And if a ruling of mental illness sufficient to meet the reporting threshold is handed down, then the beneficiary will be reported to NICS and prohibited from purchasing firearms.