Texans are firing back at a federal plan to prevent some Social Security beneficiaries from buying guns if they don’t or can’t manage their own financial affairs.
Some say the proposal — which would have the Social Security Administration comply with procedures already in place to prevent gun sales to drug addicts, felons and more — is the latest move by President Barack Obama’s administration to restrict firearm use.
“You don’t get to just take away a fundamental right,” said H. Sterling Burnett, a research fellow based in Rowlett for the Heartland Institute, a conservative and libertarian public policy think tank. “The president is looking for another way he can say he did something on gun control.
“In this case, he’s shamefully picking on seniors.”
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The Obama administration hopes to have the Social Security Administration follow reporting guidelines for the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which determines who is eligible to buy guns.
A provision drawing criticism nationwide is the part that identifies Social Security beneficiaries who don’t handle their own finances — because of “marked subnormal intelligence, or mental illness, incompetency, condition or disease” — to include them among those who can’t buy guns.
This could impact millions of adults across the country.
“It’s horrible. It’s insane,” said Alice Tripp, legislative director of the Texas State Rifle Association based in Austin. “I spoke to a group of seniors this week who are very upset about it.
“It appears if someone has a minor stroke, or can’t use their hand and they want someone else to sign their checks and pay their bills, they [will be] automatically entered into the [NICS] system as being prohibited from purchasing firearms,” she said. “It’s ludicrous … and very disheartening.”
Marsha McCartney says it may not be such a bad idea.
Regarding age, “if there comes a time when people should not drive, maybe they shouldn’t have guns then either,” said McCartney, president of the Texas chapter of the Brady Campaign. “This seems like common sense.
“This has been recommended and [Obama] is brave enough to do it.”
Since Obama was first elected in 2008, many have feared he would bring about new gun restrictions.
Waves of concern through the years have led gun enthusiasts to stock up on guns and ammo, causing shortages and price increases.
The first wave came after Obama was elected and before he took office. He had said the government needed to reinstate a ban on assault weapons and enact “common-sense” restrictions after more than three dozen Chicago children were killed.
As Obama won re-election, sales spiked again because some feared he might finally move forward with gun restrictions in his second term.
Gun and ammo sales were on the rise again after the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting in Connecticut when Obama released a slate of gun proposals that included restoring the ban on military-style assault weapons and calling on Congress to create a universal background check for gun shoppers.
The measures failed, and Obama said “this effort is not over.”
“President Obama has been salivating at the mouth to find any way to disarm the American people,” said CJ Grisham, president of Open Carry Texas. “If Obama truly believes that guns are the problem, I call upon him to lead by example and disarm his security detail and law enforcement across the country.”
After Congress rejected the president’s gun control proposals, Obama signed into effect 23 executive orders.
One of them was meant to ensure that federal agencies are complying with the laws about reporting information to the background check system, which was created more than two decades ago through the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act.
Many agencies look to the Department of Veterans Affairs, where workers have put data into the system since it began.
The VA reports anyone unable to manage his or her disability payments or pensions and has someone else handling financial affairs. General reasons some have for not managing their own money include “marked subnormal intelligence, or mental illness, incompetency, condition, or disease.”
The concern is if Social Security does the same, millions of people whose monthly payments are managed by a family member or someone else could be affected.
Many on the VA list are older than 80.
Last year in Texas, more than 65,000 concealed-handgun licenses were issued to gun owners 65 and older — 23,696 to those 65-70; 39,730 to those 71-80; 2,678 to those 81-90; and 108 to those 91-99, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Tripp, of the Texas rifle association, said she spent days last week trying to verify whether this proposal was actually real.
“It was too outrageous,” she said. “I contacted the NRA federal lobbyist and he said it was true, absolutely.
“When laws can’t be shoved through Congress … this is apparently what the administration is doing.”
Some congressional members, including Rep. Roger Williams, don’t agree with the proposal.
“Instead of protecting America’s interests abroad, communicating with Congress and leading the free world — as he is supposed to — President Obama has traded the responsibilities of the presidency for a role as dictator in chief,” said Williams, R-Austin, whose district stretches from Tarrant County through the Hill Country.
“I, again, would like to remind this former constitutional law professor that he will not trump the Second Amendment under my watch.”
Anna Tinsley, 817-390-7610