With control of Congress and the White House, Republicans took their first step on Thursday towards rolling back the Obama administration’s liberty-crushing gun control regulations. The House of Representatives voted to eliminate a 2012 Obama rule that required the Social Security Administration to refer individuals deemed mentally incapable of handling their financial affairs to the FBI’s background check system.
The rule, which Obama passed by executive order in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre, was opposed not only by the NRA and the Republican Party, but also by unlikely allies such as the ACLU and the National Council on Disability. The rule would have jeopardized the Second Amendment rights of more than 75,000 people, even though medical professionals insist there is no link between one’s ability to manage their money and their ability to safely handle firearms.
Nonetheless, Democrats jumped at the chance to cast Republicans as extremists.
“The House charged ahead with an extreme, hastily written, one-sided measure that would make the American people less safe,” said Rep. Elizabeth Esty, whose district includes Newtown, Connecticut.
Rep. Jim McGovern, another Democrat, said Americans should be able to keep their mentally-ill family members from purchasing guns.
“They have a right to protect their loved ones who may use a weapon against themselves or their family members,” McGovern said.
But Republicans argued that the Obama rule put too much power in the hands of the SSI.
“There are people who need help and seek help, but that is not a criteria for taking away one’s constitutional right,” said Rep. Pete Sessions.
It’s hard to say if this change will have any significant impact in reality. Of those 75,000 people potentially affected, we can’t know how many of them wanted to buy a gun in the first place. Nor can we know if they would have passed a background check even if they wanted to.
But symbolically, this is a refreshing step in the right direction. For eight years, Second Amendment activists have been on pins and needles, waiting for the other shoe to drop. With Barack Obama in the White House, it always felt like we were one shooting away from a massive federal gun grab. We’re confident that the Trump administration will let us relax a little. The gun-grabbers are still out there, to be sure, but they no longer have an ally in the president.