Under a new proposal from the Obama administration, standards used by the VA to determine whether veterans are competent enough to own firearms would be applied to Social Security recipients.
The proposal, originally reported by the Los Angeles Times, aims to coordinate the Social Security Administration with already-existing federal laws that ban gun sales to illegal immigrants, convicted drug offenders, felons, and others who have committed an illegal activity.
The current federal gun regulations are vague, stating that Americans may be restricted from purchasing or owning a firearm due to “marked subnormal intelligence, or mental illness, incompetency, condition, or disease,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
The early stages of the proposal would create a similar system in the Social Security Administration as in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), where anyone can be declared incompetent for being unable to manage their personal finances. Veterans have reportedly been deemed incompetent in the past for being unable to balance a checkbook or maintain accurate pension paperwork.
Critics have used this as a sticking point against the administration.
“Someone can be incapable of managing their funds but not be dangerous, violent or unsafe,” Marc Rosen, a Yale psychiatrist who studies mental health among veterans, told The Los Angeles Times. “They are very different determinations."
The Social Security Administration will perform duties similar to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS); there will be a system where those reported or deemed unfit to take care of themselves will enter the system and be barred from purchasing or owning a firearm. The Times reports that 13 million names are already in the background check system, first created in 1993 as a response to the shooting of former White House Press Secretary James Brady, who was shot during the 1981 assassination attempt on former President Ronald Reagan.
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