Behind The Claim That Trump Made It Easier For Mentally Ill To Buy Guns

Following Sutherland Springs, the gun control crowd crowed on and on about how President Trump made it easier for mentally disturbed people to buy guns. It was repeated by almost every news agency out there and thus repeated by people whose only understanding of guns and gun rights comes from the mainstream media. Gun rights advocates have had to address this elephant in the room from almost the moment news broke about the killer’s background.


Yet none of it is accurate. Not really.

Yes, President Trump did sign an executive order reversing an Obama era rule that barred certain parties from being able to buy guns, but it was the Obama policy that was screwed up.

The regulation in question was adopted in December 2016 and went into effect on January 18, 2017, after the election of President Trump but before his inauguration two days later. Compliance with the rule was scheduled to begin on December 19, 2017. Before compliance ever began, however, the rule was repealed by a law passed through the House of Representatives and Senate, then signed by President Trump in February 2017. The regulation never had any effect.

The regulation would have required the Social Security Administration to report recipients who have their benefits managed by a representative payee and who meet other criteria to the FBI’s background check system, effectively barring them from legally owning firearms. It would have applied to recipients between the ages 18 and 65 who Social Security assigned a representative payee to after determining they were unable to manage their own finances due to a mental impairment. The Social Security Administration would then notify those affected over the phone and in writing. Those affected would have been able to challenge their designation but only after their records have been submitted to the FBI.

Groups from across the political spectrum fought against the regulation’s implementation and urged its repeal. Gun-rights groups like the National Rifle Association said the rule was a “gun grab” and criticized it for lacking a determination that those affected are a threat to themselves or others.

“The Obama administration’s last minute, back-door gun grab would have stripped law-abiding citizens of their constitutional right to self-defense without due process,” Chris W. Cox, head of the National Rifle Association’s lobbying arm, said in February.

Officials at the American Civil Liberties Union opposed the rule and called for its repeal because the process did not include sufficient due process protections.


Pro tip: When the National Rifle Association and the American Civil Liberties Union are on the same side of an issue, you might want to take a step back and recognize you done screwed up.

As noted, the rule that was changed via the stroke of Trump’s pen was a reversal of Obama’s pen stroke that removed the rights of numerous Americans who had not been adjudicated as mentally defective for the purposes of owning a firearm. As the ACLU argued, there were no due process protections for these individuals, and that’s a problem.

Meanwhile, none of those upset about these individuals buying guns are upset that these same people are eligible to vote.

In fact, many on the left vehemently defend these same people voting, despite the fact that voting has longer-lasting ramifications for our country. Why?

“Well, it’s a civil liberty. You don’t just deny people their civil liberties!” they answer.

And that’s the problem.

While they rightly see voting as a civil liberty, they refuse to see gun ownership in the same light. They can’t fathom the idea that something they find as icky as guns constitutes a civil right, so they pretend it’s not.

And that is what we’re up against.

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