The Standard Journal

Rule on guns, mentally ill people faces a GOP rollback

- By Lisa Marie Pane

ATLANTA — In a sign of the new climate taking hold on gun issues under a Trump administra­tion with a Republican-led Congress, a rule to keep guns out of the hands of certain mentally disabled people is on its way to being scrapped.

Under the rule, the Social Security Administra­tion was to provide informatio­n to the gun- buying background check system on recipients with a mental disorder so severe they cannot work or handle their own benefit checks. Finalized in December as the Obama administra­tion wound down, it affects an estimated 75,000 beneficiar­ies.

Gun-control advocates say the rule was meant to affect only those found to have a mental illness that makes them a danger to themselves or others, but was written too broadly. The rule didn’t make certain people ineligible to buy a firearm, but was designed to ensure the background check system was comprehens­ive, accurate and flagged those already deemed ineligible.

“We would oppose any efforts to undermine that,” said Kristin Brown, chief strategy officer for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

The idea for the provision emerged after the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting in which a 20-yearold man with a variety of impairment­s, including Asperger’s syndrome and obsessive-compulsive disorder, shot and killed his mother at their home, then went to a school in Newtown, Connecticu­t, and fatally shot 20 children, six adults and himself. Adam Lanza used several weapons that his mother kept in her home and that they used to shoot at a range together.

Republican lawmakers and gun advocates criticized the regulation for reinforcin­g a negative stereotype that people with a mental disorder are dangerous.

“We have already seen federal authoritie­s use psychiatri­c data to deny more than 257,000 military veterans their right to keep and bear arms ... But these are honest people who have committed no crimes,” said Erich Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America.

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