On December 19, the Social Security Administration (SSA) issued the final version of a rule that will classify unknown numbers of law-abiding, vulnerable disability insurance and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients as “mental defectives,” and strip their Second Amendment rights in the process.
The Social Security rule is the final version of a proposal that we reported on earlier this year. The final rule is set to take effect on January 18, 2017.
“The administration acknowledges that the rule offers no due process on the question of losing Second Amendment rights,” said Texas Law Shield Independent Program Attorney Michele Byington of the Walker & Byington law firm in Houston. “If you, your parents, or your grandparents are affected by this rule, they have no ability to defend their suitability to possess firearms before an actual loss of rights takes place.”
In the description of the final rule in the Federal Register, Social Security officials dismissed the bulk of the comments opposing the rule, writing, “Of the timely-submitted comments, 86,860 were identical letters from different members of one advocacy group, and 324 were signatures on one comment letter. These letters urged us to withdraw the proposed rules, which the commenters thought would adversely affect individuals’ Second Amendment rights.”
“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).”
Byington said, “The rule forces affected beneficiaries to file a petition for ‘restoration’ of rights and to somehow prove their possession of firearms would not harm public safety or the public interest. This is backward. The government should have to prove someone is unfit before stripping them of their Second Amendment rights.”
The major parameters of the final rule will affect those who receive SSI or disability insurance because of a listed mental health impairment and who have been assigned a representative payee to manage the benefits because of the person’s mental condition.
“If you are a member and have questions about this rule and how it might affect someone in your family, please give us a call at the non-emergency number (281) 668-9957, and our attorneys will explain your options,” Byington said. “Or send us an email at [email protected].” — Texas & U.S. Law Shield Staff