Social Security Admits Plan to Add Recipients to Gun Background Check System

NRA, Republicans promise further action to oppose the move

August 20, 2015

The Social Security Administration (SSA) said in a letter to the House Ways and Means Committee that it plans to add some recipients to the federal gun background check system, effectively barring them from legally purchasing firearms.

The letter was in response to the committee’s concern over a Los Angeles Times report that Social Security was planning to add millions of beneficiaries, those who have designated somebody else to manage their finances, to the National Instant Background Check System (NICS). The letter, which came a week after the committee had requested a response from the agency, said that while SSA is considering adding some recipients to NICS, they do not plan to add every recipient who has designated another party to manage their finances.

"We are looking at possible implementation scenarios," said the letter from Carolyn Colvin, the SSA’s acting commissioner. "However, we are not exploring any option that would refer all SSA beneficiaries with representative payees to the NICS."

The National Rifle Association (NRA) was unhappy with the letter and said they would fight to prevent abuse of the background check system.

"The Obama administration will stop at nothing to strip as many people as possible of their Second Amendment rights through executive action," said Jennifer Baker,  spokeswoman for the NRA. "We know that the Veterans Affairs Department is denying people their constitutional rights based on having a fiduciary and that the Social Security Administration is developing a similar system to enter people into the NICS system. The SSA response does not adequately address our concerns and leaves the door open for abuse."

"The NRA will continue to employ all means available to prevent the implementation of such a widespread injustice."

The letter did not satisfy the committee’s concerns either. "This response is not sufficient," said Brendan Buck, a committee spokesman. "Social Security should not be used as a tool to restrict Americans’ Second Amendment rights, and we are exploring next steps to stop this ploy."