With the Senate’s approval Wednesday, President Donald Trump’s signature is all that’s needed to undo an Obama-era rule that would ban some Social Security recipients from owning firearms.
The rule would require the Social Security Administration to report beneficiaries who need someone to manage their finances due to a mental disorder to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, effectively making them prohibited gun purchasers. The rule drew the ire of pro-gunners, as well as people in the disability community, and even the ACLU. The House voted 235-180 to reverse the rule earlier this month, and with the Senate’s 57-43 vote Wednesday, it now heads to the president’s desk. President Trump is expected to sign the bill, according to the Associated Press.
President Obama proposed the rule in the wake of the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting, in an effort to push gun control measures at a time when Congress wouldn’t help him further that agenda. According to Obama administration estimates, some 75,000 people per year would have been reported to the FBI under the rule.
The gun lobby argued the process would have stripped one of his or her civil liberties without a formal hearing to defend their rights. “It only involves anonymous bureaucrats reviewing documents in a government-compiled file,” reads an NRA analysis.
Before the House vote earlier this month, the American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter to representatives urging them to undo the Obama-era ban.
“We oppose this rule because it advances and reinforces the harmful stereotype that people with mental disabilities, a vast and diverse group of citizens, are violent,” reads the ACLU letter. “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 NRA quickly praised the vote Wednesday.
“Today’s Senate vote was the next step in rolling back some of the egregious government overreach that characterized the Obama era,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action. “Congress is reversing a last-minute, back-door gun grab that stripped law-abiding Americans of their rights without due process.”
Gun control groups also had much to say.
“At a time when we should be making our communities safer, Congress’ first action on guns weakens the background check system,” said John Feinblatt, President of Everytown for Gun Safety.
“Make no mistake, this vote was really about deepening the gun industry’s customer pool, at the expense of those in danger of hurting themselves or others,” said Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
Lawmakers were able to pass the bill using the Congressional Review Act, which allows congressional repeal of recently enacted Obama-era rules. Chief bill sponsor Sen. Charles E. Grassley said the rule would see people unjustly losing their gun rights.
“It deprives those people [of] their constitutional rights and, in a very important way, violating their constitutional rights without even due process,” he said, according to the Washington Times.
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