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Senate approves Grassley Resolution allowing mentally ill to get guns

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate today approved a measure to roll back an Obama-era regulation that would jeopardize the opportunity for thousands of people with mental disorders from purchasing a gun.

The bipartisan resolution of disapproval, authored by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, passed in the Senate by a vote of 57-43. The resolution of disapproval has 32 bipartisan Senate cosponsors and is supported by more than 20 disability and civil rights organizations.

Iowa Senator Charles Grassley

“Our constitutional rights are among our most sacred rights. Whenever the federal government tries to regulate those rights, it had better have a darn good reason – one backed up by law and narrowly focused to prevent needless infringement. Social Security’s regulation plainly misses the mark. Under the regulation, the agency is not required to adequately prove that individuals meet the established legal definition of ‘mental defective’ or even provide due process before revoking their Second Amendment rights.

“Social Security’s flawed regulation risks erroneously adding tens of thousands of names to the federal gun ban list each year. It also unfairly stigmatizes people with disabilities, by implying that people with certain disorders are dangerous, without any actual evidence for such a claim. It’s no wonder that this regulation is opposed by more than 20 disability and civil rights groups from across the political spectrum. Today’s vote brings us one step closer to reversing this misguided regulation and reaffirming our commitment to guarding the constitutional rights of all Americans,” Grassley said.

The regulation requires that the Social Security Administration submit names of beneficiaries to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System’s (NICS) “mental defective” list if they require assistance managing their disability benefits and have certain disorders. However, the regulation is overly broad and fails to require the agency to adequately prove that individuals fall within the established definition of “mental defective” before submitting their names to the NICS. In particular, the regulation does not require the agency to determine individuals to be dangerous or mentally ill before reporting them to the gun ban list. In addition, the regulation also deprives individuals of a hearing prior to revoking their Second Amendment rights and shifts a higher burden of proof onto the individuals to demonstrate that they are not dangerous.

More than 20 disability and civil rights groups are in support of the resolution of disapproval. Supporters include:
American Association of People with Disabilities
Arc of the United States
Autistic Self Advocacy Network
Bazelon Center for Mental Health
Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities
Disability Law Center
National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy
National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery
National Council on Disability
National Council on Independent Living
National Disability Rights Network
National Rifle Association
New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services
ADAPT
Association of Mature American Citizens
National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Directors​ & National Association for Rural Mental Health
American Civil Liberties Union
National Disability Leadership Alliance
National Association for Gun Rights

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