Just since the Aurora, Colorado shootings in 2012, there have been 78 additional mass killings and 387 people are dead as a result. These numbers are horrible in and of themselves, but even worse is the fact that the National Rifle Association is winning. Republicans and Democrats are afraid to stand up to them and if there’s even a hint of wanting to make sure people are sane before being able to buy a gun, the right-wing freakout beings.
Perhaps no one has been more frustrated by the lack of movement on the most moderate of gun control than President Obama. Now he’s doing something about it. He can’t do anything about mandating background checks without Congress’ approval and trust me, that isn’t coming, but, there is one loophole that can affect a small segment of the gun buying public, and Obama is starting there.
The administration is going through the Social Security Department to lock down some at-risk gun buyers. They would like to ban people who aren’t mentally competent from buying guns. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of leverage against the angry young male demographic, but there is some leverage with people who collect Social Security, so that could cover the angry old man and angry not-so-old man on disability demographic (not being sexist – for now all but two of the mass shooters have been men).
The proposal is simple in nature (although not necessarily in execution) and it’s already done with veterans. It bans guns from people who 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.”
Source: LA Times
Of course, the system isn’t perfect.
Someone can be incapable of managing their funds but not be dangerous, violent or unsafe,” said Dr. Marc Rosen, a Yale psychiatrist who has studied how veterans with mental health problems manage their money. “They are very different determinations.
The administration isn’t completely sold on the VA system, which was put in place in 1993. They are likely looking for ways to improve it by allowing a system where people can prove they are no danger to themselves or to others. Currently, though, about 2.7 million people collect Social Security benefits because they have mental health problems. Another 1.5 million are deemed unable to handle their own affairs.
You would think that Republicans, who would jump at the idea of taking someone’s Social Security benefits away if they smoke a joint (or if a defense contractor would rather have the benefits), would be thrilled at the idea of using the system to weed out the crazies, but no. They are having an NRA-led temper tantrum.
Fox News wrote an article that was somewhat neutral, but the headline, which is all that most read, said, “Obama looks to ban Social Security recipients from owning guns.” Twitter, naturally, also piped in:
— Conservative Chick (@NaughtyBeyotch) July 20, 2015
Pres. Obama wants people on Social security to not to be able to have guns….. And I want a million dollars
— Southern Republican (@downsouthrepub) July 20, 2015
Obama to take guns away from Social Security recipients…sure 1 killed five in Chattanooga….oh no wait! RADICAL ISLAM DID #tweetcongress
— Katy (@KatyinIndy) July 20, 2015
— Dan Bongino (@dbongino) July 19, 2015
OBAMA WANTS TO DISARM SENIORS! http://t.co/cvCH5Ju2z6 We’ve gotta impeach this socialist piece of dung — he’s destroying our country!
— Gary Arpin (@arping) July 19, 2015
And then there’s the vaguely threatening:
Obama wants the power to take guns away from Social Security recipients. This won’t end well. http://t.co/67aIGkDh63
— Ken Gardner (@kesgardner) July 20, 2015
And then there’s the continuing war on welfare recipients by Social Security recipients:
“Because seniors legally owning guns is more of a threat than welfare recipients with illegal guns?” — steveintampa http://t.co/NFYtvkjyVu
— Dierks Sterling (@DierksSterling) July 19, 2015
This may not be perfect yet, but at least the President is trying to do something. That’s better than anything Congress isn’t doing. As for Obama taking seniors’ guns away, this is a background checks on guns about to be purchased. It should not affect guns already in possession.
Featured image via Wikimedia.