Sunday, 26 February, 2017

US Senate blocks Obama gun background checks rule

Senate moves forward on repeal of Obama administration Social Security gun rule Breaking: Senate Passes Bill to Allow Severely Mentally Impaired People to Buy Guns
Howard Terry | 16 February, 2017, 00:39

The Senate voted 57-43 Wednesday to roll back an Obama-era gun regulation that aimed to reduce firearm access to people with serious mental health conditions. The disapproval measure will now go to President Donald Trump's desk.

The rule, proposed last May, would have required the Social Security Administration to report such individuals meeting the criteria to the FBI's background check system used for firearms purchases.

"If the regulation is not repealed, it will allow the agency to very unfairly deprive Social Security recipients of their Second Amendment rights", Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the resolution's sponsor, said during Tuesday's debate on the measure.

He added, "Today's vote brings us one step closer to reversing this misguided regulation and reaffirming our commitment to guarding the constitutional rights of all Americans".

Republicans and gun rights groups like the National Rifle Association were against the rule, saying it stigmatized mentally ill people, according to Bloomberg. The rule implements a plan to provide to the National Instant Criminal History Background Check System the name of an individual who meets certain criteria, including that benefit payments are made through a representative payee because the individual is determined to be mentally incapable of managing them.

With a Republican ally in the White House, the GOP has moved aggressively on several fronts to rescind some of the Obama administration's final regulations on the environment, financial reporting and now guns. The government was supposed to start enforcing the rule this December. "If you can't manage your own financial affairs, how can we expect that you're going to be a responsible steward of a unsafe, lethal firearm?" The Senate voted 57-43 to rescind the rule, following House passage largely along party lines on February 2.

The vote has been criticized by gun control advocates who believe it's important to keep deadly weapons out of the hands of people deemed too severely mentally ill to manage their own disability benefits.

On separation-of-powers grounds, the prospect of the Social Security Administration playing judge, jury, and executioner is flatly intolerable.

"If there are problems with this rule, they can be addressed by fixing it", said Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat.

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