Friday, May 20, 2016

Firearms Law Seminar - The Attack On VA And SSA Beneficiaries

Chris Zeeland of the NRA gave an excellent talk on the Obama administrations executive action on gun control and how the executive branch can impose gun control even in the face of Congressional deadlock or active resistance from Congress.

His presentation started off with the fact that the Gun Control act does not identify what it means to be adjudicated a mental defective under the law.

Test now is danger to self or others or importantly if the beneficiary lacks mental capacity to contract or manage own affairs.

ATF's new proposed rule on those receiving social security benefits based on VA's ruling that mental defective new is on capacity contract or manage affairs  no findings of dangerousness or mental illness is required and can still lose firearms rights in a bureaucratic decision. Do not get due process rights for loss of a fundamental right and must affirmatively establish not a danger to self or others and get a mental evaluation and disprove an assertion the government never had to establish in the first place.

177,000 veterans have been reported under this to NICS as prohibited persons with only 298 appeals.

Now Obama is trying to move this standard to those receiving Social Security benefits.

4.2 millions social security representatives receive payments through representative beneficiaries and would be potentially prohibited persons under this regulation.  

SSA NPRM 81 FR 27059 now has a 5 factor test to apply prospectively allegedly will affect about 75,000 persons per year, and at least looking at underlying basis for disability. Will only report people after 18 but not reached full retirement age - rather under-inclusive - he noted you could be of retirement age and "bat guano crazy" and not be affected which is certainly rather arbitrary. Gives more focus on mental illness but no finding of dangerousness to lose firearms rights. Memory impairment, inflated self-esteem, sleep disturbance all qualify as impairments for losing firearms rights.

Again relief is only after losing rights and must get mental health assessment both present and over preceding 5 years. In other words need to prove not a danger to self or others when government never had to prove that in the first place and there is no pre-deprivation due process on loss of firearms rights.  He noted there are other benefits programs that might also be affected by this executive approach.

Some legislation has been introduced to reform this and provide some protection to both VA and SSA beneficiaries, but some have been blocked already by Democrats such as Senator Durbin in the Senate.

In short this regulation will have far reaching implications and is a definite threat to a large number of Americans' firearms rights.

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