Bill seeks to expand Second Amendment due process protections for Social Security disability recipients, veterans

Handgun on a ruffled American Flag sits a handgun
Protecting Gun Rights and Due Process Act introduced

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced new legislation April 14 to block a controversial Obama Administration proposal to impose new firearm restrictions on recipients of Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income, as well as create new procedural safeguards aiming to protect the Second Amendment rights of veterans and other people with disabilities.

“The Obama administration is at it again, and this time they are unilaterally stripping gun rights from our nation’s veterans and seniors,” Sen. Paul said in a news release. “The Protecting Gun Rights and Due Process Act will provide necessary protection for gun-owning Americans, and ultimately ensure that the Second Amendment is not infringed upon.”

In July, the Los Angeles Times reported that the Obama Administration was working on a new proposal, expanding the Social Security Administration’s obligations for reporting names to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Federal law requires federal agencies, and encourages states, to report names of people categorized as “a mentally defective,” who are subsequently listed in the NICS as barred from obtaining firearms, pursuant to the Gun Control Act.

The proposal, which has not been made public, would interpret the term “mental defective” to encompass people who lack the intellectual capacity to manage their finances.

In practical terms, this could mean that the SSA would have to report all of the approximately 4.3 million Social Security disability recipients whose finances are overseen by fiduciaries through the SSA’s Representative Payee Program, as reported by the Los Angeles Times. The National Council on Disability, among other disability rights organizations, slammed the proposal as overly broad.

The Protecting Gun Rights and Due Process Act would clarify that the term “mental defective” only refers to people who have been “adjudicated as mentally incompetent,” such as a person found incompetent to stand trial, or “committed to a psychiatric hospital,” which similarly necessitates a court proceeding.

Unlike the SSA, the Department of Veterans Affairs has been reporting the names of veterans with fiduciaries managing their finances to the NICS since 1993, the year the system was created under the Brady Bill. More than 177,000 veterans are barred from purchasing firearms under this system.

Sen. Paul’s bill would similarly require the VA to only report people who are “adjudicated as mentally incompetent or committed to a psychiatric hospital.” The VA, within 90 days of the passage of the legislation, would also have to review its own list and remove from the NICS names listed under its existing standard.

The bill would also require the Attorney General’s Office to certify each adjudication that resulted in a name being placed on the list. People who should not be prevented from obtaining firearms due to their mental competency would be promptly removed from the list and have their rights restored.