A few weeks ago, the Shooter’s Log reported that the Obama Administration is looking for ways to use the Social Security Administration (SSA) as a backdoor form of gun control. Its plan is to report all individuals who receive SSA benefits via an assigned designated fiduciary recipient. In other words, if you receive SSA benefits and elect to have someone manage your money for you, the Administration wants to equate it to being unfit to possess a firearm.
This is similar in nature to the model employed by the Veteran’s Administration, which reports to NICS as “adjudicated as a mental defective” beneficiaries who have been assigned a “fiduciary” to manage their benefits. This action by the VA has already subjected a little over 175,000 beneficiaries to NICS as prohibited persons, done without a hearing, due process or any other judicial investigation or finding whatsoever—no violent crimes, no violent tendencies or dangerous behaviors to themselves or others, just a stroke of the pen to strip them of their Second Amendment rights.
Upping the ante, the administration would now target 4.2 million more Americans via the SSA with designated “representative payees.”
Daylight on the Horizon?
Is there daylight on the horizon? Well, not exactly. However, the Second Amendment does have its supporters in Congress. For instance, 20 members of Congress led by Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX), Chairman of the Social Security Subcommittee of the House Committee on Ways and Means, sent a letter to Carolyn Colvin, acting commissioner of Social Security. The letter pointed out the danger and folly of such action as a “dangerous overreach.” The letter also puts the Acting Commissioner Colvin on the spot by requesting confirmation of whether or not the SSA intended to pursue the policy. Either way, the Representatives urged the SSA “to abandon any such plan.” Perhaps the letter isn’t the strongest effort, but it is at least a step in the right direction.
In a letter dated Aug 7, the SSA (Ms. Colvin) responded stating that the “SSA has not provided any names of beneficiaries to the NICS and is not considering sending names based solely on the beneficiaries having representative payees.” That is the good news. The bad news is that Colvin also included a statement that the SSA is currently determining how “[it] must comply with our NICS reporting obligations under Federal law” and “are looking at possible implementation scenarios.” None of those scenarios, according to Colvin, “would refer all SSA beneficiaries with representative payees to the NICS.”
Colvin is a bureaucrat, which does not automatically make her untrustworthy, but you have to read between the lines to see some of the danger in her response. For instance, Colvin never said the representative payee would not be used for NICS, just that it would not be the “sole determinant” and not “all” such beneficiaries with representative payees would be reported. That leaves a lot of wiggle room for a bureaucrat. Nor does it address or eliminate the possibility of using some other half-baked criteria to strip recipients of their Second Amendment rights.
On Aug. 7, 2015, 28 Senators also took up the matter. Led by Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) the letter expressed concern and inquired about the SSA’s intention to report beneficiaries with representative payees to NICS—similar to Rep. Johnson’s. “It is not at all clear, how this misguided intention is intended to be carried out, or how SSA will serve as the adjudicator of risks posed by beneficiaries utilizing its representative payee system.” The letter went on to request a report “on the basis for SSA’s intention to develop such a plan.” Further, the letter admonished, “Old age or a disability does not make someone a threat to society,” and closed by urging SSA “to halt any steps to provide information on Social Security beneficiaries or Supplemental Security Income recipients to the NICS.”
The NRA is actively engaging members of Congress for preemptive solutions. As a result, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced S. 2002. The bill seeks to halt the VA, SSA or any other agency from reporting individuals to NICS without proper due process that legally determines an individual a danger to themselves or others.
Stand Up and Be Heard!
In the meantime, if you have not already registered your concern, your senators and representatives need your support. If they are against the Second Amendment they need to hear you displeasure! Let them know your opinion on the use of the VA and SSA as a wedge to force individuals to choose between benefits and the Second Amendment. You can use the “Write Your Lawmakers” feature at NRAILA.org or call the Congressional Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.
How do you feel about using the administration’s new proposed criteria as data for NICS checks? Share your opinions in the comment section.