Groups Threaten to Block Obama Administration’s Latest Gun Control Move

Republicans send letter urging Social Security to abandon plan

July 21, 2015

Two of the nation’s leading gun rights organizations have vowed to stop an attempt by the Obama administration to implement broad new gun control measures.

On the heels of a report in the Los Angeles Times claiming that millions of people on Social Security could be prohibited from purchasing firearms because they have their affairs managed by a representative payee, both the National Rifle Association and the Second Amendment Foundation have said they will fight to keep the plan from going into effect. The plan, similar to a policy already in place at the Veterans Administration, would designate anyone who receives Social Security but has another party legally manage his benefits a "prohibited person" under federal firearms law. So far the VA policy has affected around 177,000 veterans, but the proposed Social Security policy would touch far more, as many as 4.2 million.

The National Rifle Association, the country’s largest gun rights organization, said that it plans to do everything within its power to ensure that the plan is never implemented. "The Obama administration will stop at nothing to strip as many people as possible of their Second Amendment rights," said Chris Cox, the executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action. "The NRA will employ all means available to prevent the implementation of such a widespread injustice."

Cox said that the NRA had called on President Obama to abandon the policy and is working with Congress to force him to drop the plan. "We’ve called on the president to immediately suspend this activity," Cox told Cam and Company. "We’re going to work with Congress so that if he doesn’t do it voluntarily, which we obviously don’t expect him to, we’re going to make him do it involuntarily."

The Second Amendment Foundation, the gun rights group behind a number of landmark court decisions, said that it plans to file suit against the Obama administration if attempts are made to implement the plan. "If the Obama Administration does ahead with this plan we will take them to court," said Alan Gottlieb, the group’s founder. "This proposed attack on the Second Amendment cannot be allowed to stand."

Meanwhile, the NRA’s efforts have already produced a letter from Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee to the acting commissioner of the Social Security Administration.

"It has come to our attention that the Social Security Administration is considering a policy to provide the names of Social Security beneficiaries who have a ‘representative payee’ to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) in an effort to limit 2nd Amendment rights," said the letter signed by 18 Republican members of the committee. "This would be a dangerous overreach, and we urge you to abandon any such plan."

"The representative payee system is vital for beneficiaries who need assistance managing their own finances. Millions of responsible seniors and people with disabilities rely on a representative payee. Simply using this system does not mean beneficiaries are a risk to themselves or others."

The letter said that providing information to NICS concerning those with a representative payee would be a "broad overreach of authority" and violated those individuals constitutional rights. "Old age or a disability doesn’t make someone a threat to society," the letter said. "Having a representative payee should not be grounds to revoke constitutional rights."

"We strongly urge you to halt any steps to provide information on Social Security beneficiaries or Supplemental Security Income recipients to the NICS."

The letter gives Social Security until July 31 to respond to the committee’s concerns. When asked if the committee was drafting legislation in the event that Social Security does not reconsider its plan, a committee spokesman said they’re waiting for a response before doing so. "We will wait to see what they have to say first," said Doug Andres, a spokesman for the committee.

The NRA praised the committee’s letter. "If left to their own devices, President Obama’s Social Security Administration would be free to implement the largest gun grab in American history," Cox said in the release. "The NRA appreciates Chairman Johnson’s swift action to put a halt to this outrageous scheme that would deny millions of Americans a fundamental constitutional right because they need or want help managing their finances."