Social Security Administration Takes Aim at Beneficiaries Who Own Firearms

It is certainly no secret that the Second Amendment, and the extent to which it should be applied and upheld in today’s society, is under increasing scrutiny. Not only is the Federal Bureau of Investigation dealing with heavily-armed domestic and international individuals within the United States, but the Social Security Administration has also entered the arena of gun control and firearm ownership restriction – except, their position takes direct aim at disability beneficiaries who – in the SSA’s opinion – are under the influence of a mental health issue, therefore making gun ownership a general safety issue.

According to the 41-page document published by the SSA on May 5, 2016, the SSA intends to inform the Department of Justice on a quarterly basis of its disability beneficiaries who are receiving the benefits due to a mental health or mental impairment diagnosis. From there, the SSA will be informing these individuals of the possible prohibitions on gun ownership that could be implemented by the DOJ, as well as the consequences of violating the restriction.

Relying on the language of the Brady Act and its implementing regulations, the SSA continued by highlighting the statutory language that prohibits gun ownership by anyone who “has been adjudicated as a mental defective.” The SSA further explained that the FBI has reported significant backlogs in running background checks on gun purchasers, often due to incomplete files or unavailable information. Under the new regulations, the FBI would have immediate automated access to this information, and would be able to quickly make a determination of “mental defect,” which has been defined to include any of the following:

  • A determination by a court, board, commission or other lawful authority that a person has marked subnormal intelligence, mental illness, incompetency, a mental condition or disease;
  • Is a danger to himself/herself because of said condition;
  • Lacks the capacity to manage his/her own affairs;
  • Has been formally committed to a mental institution.

The report does not make mention of due process rights afforded to those who are deemed “incompetent” to own a firearm. Under the regulations, over 75,000 beneficiaries could be impacted, many of whom may be required to relinquish their firearms immediately.

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