Time to Close Mental Impairment Background Check Loophole for Guns

Time to Close Mental Impairment Background Check Loophole for Guns

Social Security Disability Income recipients legally adjudicated as mentally impaired are disqualified from gun ownership under federal law, but they are not being reported to the national background check system, says Dru Stevenson, a law professor at University of South Texas Houston. Congress should re-authorize the Social Security Administration to cooperate with the FBI so that the background check system can function properly, he contends. The Senate group negotiating a new package of gun safety legislation recently announced a tentative deal, which includes more funding for mental health services and funding for states to incentivize adopting and implementing “red flag laws,” a process for courts to order temporary gun removals from individuals shown to pose a serious risk to themselves or others. While these measures are helpful and will save lives , there is an additional step Congress could take to help keep guns out of the hands of those with serious mental impairments. Each year, thousands of individuals petition the Social Security Administration (SSA) for permanent disability benefits (SSDI) based on mental impairments, and thousands of these go to a hearing before a federal administrative law Judge (ALJ). If the ALJ grants benefits, this means the person has been legally adjudicated as having a mental impairment so severe that they cannot perform any full-time job on an ongoing basis. In the most severe cases, the person or their family will ask the SSA to designate the person as too mentally impaired to oversee their own finances. In some […]

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