Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Checking On Grandpa's Guns

Various federal agencies participate in the federal background check system for firearms purchases as far as reporting information into the system, but there's been one huge loophole in that arrangement for years: Social Security has never been required to do so.  President Obama is expected to change that, and that could mean major differences for millions of older Americans.

Seeking tighter controls over firearm purchases, the Obama administration is pushing to ban Social Security beneficiaries from owning guns if they lack the mental capacity to manage their own affairs, a move that could affect millions whose monthly disability payments are handled by others.

The push is intended to bring the Social Security Administration in line with laws regulating who gets reported to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, which is used to prevent gun sales to felons, drug addicts, immigrants in the country illegally and others.

A potentially large group within Social Security are people who, in the language of federal gun laws, are unable to manage their own affairs due to "marked subnormal intelligence, or mental illness, incompetency, condition, or disease."

There is no simple way to identify that group, but a strategy used by the Department of Veterans Affairs since the creation of the background check system is reporting anyone who has been declared incompetent to manage pension or disability payments and assigned a fiduciary.

If Social Security, which has never participated in the background check system, uses the same standard as the VA, millions of its beneficiaries would be affected. About 4.2 million adults receive monthly benefits that are managed by "representative payees."

The move is part of a concerted effort by the Obama administration after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., to strengthen gun control, including by plugging holes in the background check system.

But critics — including gun rights activists, mental health experts and advocates for the disabled — say that expanding the list of prohibited gun owners based on financial competence is wrongheaded.

Other than change the law, there's not much Congress can do about that.  Which federal agencies participate in the NICS system is determined by the executive, not the legislative branch.  This is simply using the power Congress gave the presidency.

Having said that, I'd need to see the details of how Social Security status would be used to determine eligibility to purchase a firearm before commenting.  A blanket "no" on anyone having their Social Security managed by someone else doesn't seem like the best idea, but then again it is the same standard that the VA uses and I have yet to hear anyone complain about that.

Of course, Republicans are going to go apeshit and lie and say Obama will take guns away from all Social Security recipients, or something equally false and stupid.  But Republicans have lost battle after battle with supposedly "lame duck" Obama over the last seven months.  I don't see them winning too much at this point.


djchefron said...

If you cant handle your finances why should I expect you to handle a gun

michael said...

My Dad, before he passed away, was banned by myself and my brothers and sister from driving. He lost mental capacity, and we're seeing a bunch of dents on his car. There would be no way that, in that situation, I'd put up with him owning a gun. Boy was he pissed when we took away his keys, but it was the responsible thing to do at the time.

Horace Boothroyd III said...

I was thinking about this the other day. We have a huge problem in this country with gun deaths. When the Korean War vets at camp taught me how to shoot, that was serious business using a serious tool and you Did Not Screw Around. I know from personal experience how to handle a firearm safely, and the first rule is DON'T unless you have a damned good reason.

Unfortunately, that will not stop crimes of passion or (genuine) accidents or (stupid) negligence or diminished capacity.

So if you hate English people, that's your business. Kind of dumb, but it's your business. If however you want to convince me that the Mad Plumber of Bristol is roaming your neighborhood, shooting people at random, then you had damned well better have some evidence. Produce the MPoB himself, red handed, or show me some bodies with bullet holes and a compelling case in each and every instance that crimes of passion or (genuine) accidents or (stupid) negligence or diminished capacity are not applicable here. Then I might start to believe you, especially if you have plane tickets and hotel receipts.

If you are trying to suggest that something odd is going on, especially if it is in accord with your peculiar idiosyncratic beliefs, then you have to bring the evidence. Suggesting that great grandpa has shaky hands and cataracts and maybe shouldn't be chasing the cat with a 38 special, that by contrast is plain common sense.

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