NRA: Trump Signs Repeal of Obama-Era SSA Gun Prohibition Rule

President Donald J. Trump standing at a podium in front of the American flag

Far from the conception of some, the gun control fight is not over. While certain threats have been diminished with the defeat of Hillary Clinton, others are just as real. Fights are taking place within local and state legislatures. Other efforts are not against new threats, but against actions taken by previous administrations. The Shooter’s Log reported on the threat to the Second Amendment rights of individuals applying for, or receiving, Social Security benefits.

President Donald J. Trump standing at a podium in front of the American flag

While we were unsuccessful in blocking the initial implementation at the end of President Obama’s term, President Trump is doing the right thing. Read the full release from the National Rifle Association (NRA).

On Tuesday, President Donald J. Trump signed the repeal of an Obama-era Social Security Administration (SSA) rule that would have resulted in some 75,000 law-abiding beneficiaries losing their Second Amendment rights each year.

The SSA rulemaking was issued in the waning weeks of Obama’s presidency and targeted those receiving disability insurance or Supplementary Security Income based on SSA’s listed mental disorders and who were appointed a “representative payee” to help them manage their benefits. The agency –for the first time in its history– sought to portray these individuals as “mental defectives” who were prohibited from acquiring or possessing firearms under federal law. It had planned to notify them of their prohibited status and to report them to NICS.

Making matters worse, the beneficiaries would have had no ability to argue about their suitability to possess firearms before their rights were lost. Instead, they would have been reduced to filing a petition for “restoration” of their rights—an expensive and bureaucratic process that would have required them to pay for a mental health evaluation and to prove they were not dangerous. A premise the government never established in the first place.

The plan drew fire not just from the NRA, but also from the ACLU and a wide range of mental health advocacy and treatment groups from across the political spectrum. Also opposing the plan was the National Council on Disability (NCD), an independent federal agency charged with advising the President, Congress, and other federal agencies regarding policies, programs, practices, and procedures that affect people with disabilities. The NCD issued a statement explaining:

Since the action was first proposed in 2013, NCD has consistently taken the position that equating the need for assistance in managing one’s finances with a false presumption of incapacity in other areas of life, including possession of a firearm, unnecessarily and unreasonably deprives individuals with disabilities of a constitutional right and increases the stigma that [affects] those who may need a representative payee. The overly broad classification of “mental disorder,” includes a wide range of limitations and a shifting set of criteria relevant to whether or not one can engage in substantial gainful activity. NCD remains steadfast in our position that this classification remains irrelevant to the question of whether one can be a responsible gun owner.

The SSA received tens of thousands of comments in opposition to the rule. The NRA-ILA’s submission explained in detail how the rule was contrary to the underlying statute, to the U.S. Constitution and would function mainly to stigmatize the SSA beneficiaries and discourage others from seeking treatment and benefits to which they were entitled. It also argued that there was no empirical support for the notion that the rule would promote public safety.

Upper left corner of a social security card

The SSA, however, ignored the comments and issued the rule essentially as proposed.

It also brazenly brushed aside proffered evidence that the targeted beneficiaries were not at any increased risk for committing violence with firearms. “We are not attempting to imply a connection between mental illness and a propensity for violence, particularly gun violence,” the SSA wrote. “Rather, we are complying with our obligations under the NIAA, which require us to provide information from our records when an individual falls within one of the categories identified in 18 U.S.C. 922(g).”

Fortunately, pro-gun majorities in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate acted quickly to disapprove the rule under the Congressional Review Act, a federal statute that allows Congress to use an expedited legislative process to overrule administrative actions passed in the waning days of an outgoing administration.

The efforts to roll back this unjustified and legally unauthorized rule were predictably met with a withering barrage of negative and fake reporting from the anti-gun media, with supposed “news” outlets issuing such ludicrous headlines as “Senate, House hand guns to seriously mentally ill.” All these reports completely ignored the fact that existing restrictions on persons who had been involuntarily committed or adjudicated mentally incompetent remained fully intact. By acting to block the rule, Congress simply disapproved the Obama administration’s attempt to create a new class of prohibited persons by “reinterpreting” a federal gun control statute passed in 1968.

President Trump’s signing of the measure not only served to help repair the damage to the Second Amendment wrought by the Obama administration, it ushered in what many hope will be a new era of respect for the right to keep and bear arms. Just over a month into his presidency, Trump signed a freestanding pro-gun bill into law.

The NRA, of course, was among the earliest and staunchest supporters of Trump’s presidential bid. We thank him for his quick action on this measure and look forward to working with him and the pro-gun majorities in Congress to protect Americans’ Second Amendment rights.

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What issue should the NRA-ILA focus on next? Which law would you most like to see President Trump repeal next? Share your answers in the comment section.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (13)

  1. I would like to have no additional paperwork and fees on SBR AR-type rifles. Make the amount of paperwork the same as the “regular” AR rifles.

  2. One down and a whole bunch to go. Too bad they can’t repeal the stupid gun laws in California, DC, etc. etc..

  3. I would love to see maybe a federal concealed weapons permit that is good in all states, that a civilian may apply for, not just retired LE. I travel a good deal interstate, and especially when away from my home state, would feel more comfortable being able to carry.

  4. i Know theres a lot going on about the 2nd right now, BUT, The people of New York would like president Trump to take a little time to do something about the gun laws in our state. We are getting drowned by gun restrictions from our governor.

  5. how about repealing or grandfathering in high cap mags here in California. I have had my mags for over 20 years and have a spotless record and life but overnight I will become a felon. That is just wrong. I would even agree to a background check to be able to keep them. Bottom line if you have something to hide maybe you shouldn’t have the toys. But penalizing hundred of thousands of law abiding citizens for owning something that they bought legally and who are good citizens is just so wrong. How has it come to this that we are punished for a wrong caused by a crazy few????

  6. I believe that work needs to be done in the area of Curio and Relic guns, obama made it more difficult for importation of former military guns into the US which has driven up the cost of the guns considered Curio and Relics. I remember when a mosin nagant rifle was only around $69.00, the same for a Nagant pistol. The Curio and Relic guns being offered for sale today are out of the price range of most people today. You can buy new guns that were manufactured in various places for less than Curio and Relics.

  7. I hope the NRA and other organizations will turn there attention to the long and expensive process which they mentioned in the above article. The process of restoration of firearms rights, for all of those affected by the law. I am currently trying to restore my rights and in Washington state the process has just gotten longer, and more expensive. I made a mistake when I was in school that will affect the rest of my life through some of my most deep rooted passions. Some of the best past times our country has to offer will have to be by passed by me, my children and my wife. Unless I pay a fee for a mistake I’ve already paid for with my dignity, and time and effort and repayment to the community. Many times over. My family’s safety is a just another type of tax they can now add to my long lists of taxes I must pay for day to day life. This is un acceptable. Please write your local legislation and let them know there are many young and old folks out here that would very much like an easier process to get there God given right to self preservation back. How many criminals who’ve commit multiple offense s against others violently or otherwise go out of there way to even fill out the proper paperwork to seal there records? I’m sure not many if any at all. I have done so. Completely sealed however this is not enough to restore my state fire arms rights. This last September the Washington state patrol changed the requirements for rights restoration. Of course in the middle of me going through a long process to get my record sealed. I was told by the courts and Evan the wsp that I may need a lawyer to finish said paperwork. I did not. Everything so far I’ve done myself it was very simple tho many steps involved some of which expensive it was still easily done. However now they have thrown up more roadblocks to stop law abiding citizens from getting the god given rights back. It’s ludicrous. Please someone help! New laws in Washington state are being passed regularly to restrict firarms rights, and availability. NRA please step up and help us.

  8. I’m surprised they didn’t try to take guns from people who, like G. W. didn’t like broccoli, because it was in violation of the General Welfare clause of the Constitution.

    1. @ Sich,

      I do not know where you would have heard such a thing because to my knowledge this was never brought before the 9th Circuit, or any other court for that matter.

      But even if a lawsuit had been filed, the Court has no choice but to drop it now that both Congress and President Trump abolished the new Social Security Rule entirely. Now that this new Resolution has passed it is as if the Rule had never existed, and thus the Courts no longer have a case to even hear.

      With each passing day I am increasingly appreciating this President and our new Congress. He moves much faster than I ever expected on all the issues we’ve been concerned with lately.

      I’ve never seen a president like this before. It’s as if he is sitting at our kitchen table and listening to the most pressing issues and the very next day jumps right on fixing them all. This is fantastic.

  9. I trust this will retroactively apply to all negatively people already listed due to this non-judicial denial of Rights by a rogue Administration. How does this affect similar abuses done to Vets by the VA on the same grounds?

    1. @ bill knight,

      In answering your first question: The Rule went into effect January 18, 2017 and was repealed on February 28, 2017. That makes for a total of 41 days in which the Social Security Administration (SSA) had time to dump records into NICS.

      It is presumed the SSA would have to follow their own rules and take the appropriate time to individually process each and every record to ensure it met their NICS reporting requirements. The total number of records capable of being processed during that time period is unknown.

      Keep in mind that the Rule was written in 2007 and then placed on hold. So it is also not known as to whether they began pre-processing these records for NICS years ago in preparation for a single data dump the moment the Rule went into effect; or whether they waited and then only started reviewing records after the Rule was signed at the end of Obama’s term this past January.

      If the SSA waited to process the records then the Rule was killed in time to stop a mass data dump and the only Social Security recipients that need to be concerned are those that may have been processed within those 41 days. Regardless, once a person is entered into NICS they cannot be removed.

      The only hope any of these individuals have of ever owning a firearm again is to apply for what is known as a Voluntary Appeal File (VAF). The process is lengthy and you can only apply for a VAF after being denied a gun purchase and subsequently appealing to the FBI and proving you were wrongfully denied.

      Assuming you are approved, from that point forward the VAF essentially tells NICS operators that even if your name is in the system, you are lawfully allowed to own a firearm – and the purchase is approved without delay or denial.

      One would think that if the SSA did do a mass data dump that rather than make each person go through the VAF process, they would instead hire a database programmer to write a one-time script to remove them from NICS permanently and restore things back as they were.

      In answer to your second question: No, this particular repeal has no impact on the similar VA dilemma. However, there is another Bill winding its way through Congress to separately address that issue. It is known as the “Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act (H.R. 629)”. I hope this has answered your questions.

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