The Obama rule would have prevented an estimated 75,000 people with mental disorders from being able to purchase a firearm, crafted as part of efforts to strengthen the federal background check system following the Sandy Hook massacre.
WASHINGTON – Congress on Wednesday sent President Donald Trump legislation blocking an Obama-era rule designed to keep guns out of the hands of certain mentally disabled people.
On a vote of 57-43, the Senate backed the resolution, just one of several early steps by the Republican-led Congress to undo regulations implemented by former President Barack Obama. The House had passed the measure earlier this year. The White House has signalled Trump will sign the legislation.
The Obama rule would have prevented an estimated 75,000 people with mental disorders from being able to purchase a firearm. It was crafted as part of Obama’s efforts to strengthen the federal background check system in the wake of the 2012 massacre of 20 young students and six staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
Adam Lanza, a 20-year-old 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 school where he killed the students, adults and himself.
The Obama administration rule required the Social Security Administration to send in the names of beneficiaries with mental impairments who also have a third party manage their benefits.
But lawmakers, with the backing of the National Rifle Association and advocacy groups for the disabled, opposed the regulation and encouraged Congress to undertake a rarely successful process designed to void regulations that Congress takes issue with.
With a Republican ally in the White House, the GOP has moved aggressively on several fronts to rescind some of the Obama administration’s final regulations on the environment, financial reporting and now guns. Under an expedited process established through the Congressional Review Act, a regulation is made invalid when a simple majority of both chambers pass a joint resolution of disapproval and the president signs it.
Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, spearheaded the repeal effort and said the regulation unfairly stigmatizes the disabled and infringes on their constitutional right to bear arms. He said that the mental disorders covered through the regulation are filled with “vague characteristics that do not fit into the federal mentally defective standard” prohibiting someone from buying or owning a gun.
Grassley cited eating and sleep disorders as examples of illnesses that could allow a beneficiary to be reported to the background check system if they also have a third party to manage their benefits.
“If a specific individual is likely to be violent due to the nature of their mental illness, then the government should have to prove it,” Grassley said.
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said he didn’t know how he could explain to his constituents that Congress was making it easier rather than harder for people with serious mental illness to have a gun.
“If you can’t manage your own financial affairs, how can we expect that you’re going to be a responsible steward of a dangerous, lethal firearm,” Murphy said.
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., argued that anyone who thinks they’re treated unfairly can appeal, and are likely to win if they’re not a danger to themselves or others. But Grassley said federal law requires a formal hearing and judgment before depriving someone of owning a firearm due to mental illness.
Gun rights groups weren’t the only organizations upset about the Obama administration’s regulation. The American Civil Liberties Union criticized it, too. The ACLU said the rule advanced a harmful stereotype that people with mental disabilities, “a vast and diverse group of citizens, are violent.” More than a dozen advocacy groups for the disabled also opposed the Obama administration’s regulation.
The NAACP, the United States Conference of Mayors and the National League of Cities supported the Social Security Administration’s efforts.
“This heartless resolution puts the most vulnerable Americans at risk,” said Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “Make no mistake, this vote was really about deepening the gun industry’s customer pool, at the expense of those in danger of hurting themselves or others.”
Meanwhile, the GOP-led House will seek to rescind more Obama-era regulations later Wednesday, including a Labor Department rule critics say unduly restricts efforts in some states to test unemployment insurance applicants for drug use.
- Republicans are about to lay waste to a slew of Obama-era regulations
- Now, More Than Ever, We Must Fight For Common Sense, Gun Safety Policies
- Gun makers are facing an 'uncertain environment' ahead
- 3,391 firearms discovered in carry-on bags in 2016, TSA says
- 'The softest of soft targets:' Is it time to re-think the rules around guns in checked luggage?
- New bill could force states to allow visiting gun owners to pack heat without a permit
- Not All Cops Oppose Gun Control
- The NRA Has A Money Advantage In More Ways Than One
- Lest We Forget, America Suffered Its Deadliest Mass Shooting This Year
- Legal Heavyweights Won't Change Realities Of Gun Debate
- California leads the nation with the strongest gun laws of all 50 states
- Gun-safety activists ask Donald Trump to join them as part of his promise to “make America great again”
You might also like
- Report: Russia, Syria targeted civilian areas
- A brief history of art and eroticism
- Who is Paul Manafort?
- Sean Spicer isn't finished
- Rauner asks court to reject Lisa Madigan state worker motion
- The Every Guy Workout: 5 tips for stepping up your game
- Ask the Doctors: Consult doctor before moving kids to vegan diet
- No smoking is now the norm at hotels
- Architect shapes nation's view of African American history
- Stewart Copeland arrives for world-premiere night at the opera
- Women scare up the horror stories in 'XX'
- Drone taxis? Passenger-carrying drone to fly in Dubai
- Powerful South Carolina political consultant implicated in indictments of a veteran state senator
- Will Donald Trump get a second Supreme Court nomination?
- "Hazing" rituals await Supreme Court's "junior justice" Neil Gorsuch
- The hunt is on for Planet Nine. Here's how to join it
- Trump approves controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline
- Trump praises 'Fox & Friends,' renews old feuds in early morning tweets
- Rex Tillerson finally answers question from NBC News' Andrea Mitchell
- First Read's Morning Clips: The Latest in the Russia Investigation
- Spicer: 'I've let the president down'
- Russian President Vladimir Putin met with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday
- OMB Diriector Mick Mulvaney: Washington's 'a lot more broken' than Trump thought
- Trump attacks conservatives over failure of health care bill
- A very consequential week didn't go well for President Trump
- Health Care Showdown: Republicans look to go big or go home
- No deal on health care bill after conservatives meet with Trump
- CA gov on those supporting health bill: 'Their name is going to be mud'
- Give it to me straight, doc: Is Obamacare dying?
- First Read's Morning Clips: Waiting for CBO
- 14 People Share What's It's Really Like to Have An Ex Who Is Now Their In-Law
- The Internet Is Freaking Out About The Way This Chef Cuts Pizza
- The hunt is on for Planet Nine. Here's how to join it
- Israeli prime minister talks of a snap election amid concerns over a new public broadcaster
- U.S. condemns suspected Syrian chemical attack on civilians, but says the Assad government is a 'political reality'
- Canada's largest school board will end class trips to the U.S. due to Trump's travel restrictions
- Warplanes strike Syrian town already hit by chemical attack
- Vigilantes prowl Europe's border with a target: Muslim migrants
- A letter from Britain to the European Union will trigger the 'Brexit' process March 29
- Ukraine president suggests a Kremlin-orchestrated attack after former Russian lawmaker is shot dead in Kiev
- Russian officials say St. Petersburg subway blast killed at least 11 and injured dozens
- As death toll in hospital attack soars to 50, Afghanistan investigates whether it was an inside job
- South Korea's ousted leader moves out of palace, apologizes for 'not fulfilling my duties'
- A brazen political killing shakes Myanmar, already teetering on the path to democracy
- India's Narendra Modi leads his party to victory in a state with more than 200 million people
- A controversial Thai monk is wanted in connection with a fraud case. His followers won't give him up
- Another Dalit suicide on campus raises fears of a crisis of discrimination at Indian universities
- Syrian government insists it does not use chemical weapons; US vows serious response to attack
- Bodies of U.N. workers and interpreter found in Congo, prompting calls for investigation
- Hamas hangs 3 Palestinians in Gaza it says were collaborating with Israel
- Basque group ETA hands over weapons, ammunition and explosives to France
- Syrian ally Iran blasts U.S. missile strikes as 'dangerous, destructive and a violation of international law'