When Marine Steven Overman’s Humvee hit an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) in Iraq in 2007, he was diagnosed not only with PTSD but with a brain injury sufficiently severe that the VA deemed him 100-percent disabled and incompetent to handle his financial affairs. His wife is now Overman’s fiduciary.
Under VA rules dating back to the installation of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), Overman couldn’t own any weapons. But after a year and a half of appeals, the VA relented and allowed him to regain possession of his guns.
Now the Obama administration has announced plans to require the Social Security Administration (SSA) to use the same rules to prohibit beneficiaries who use “representative payees” from owning firearms. These would include anyone unable to manage their own affairs due to “marked subnormal intelligence, or mental illness, incompetency, condition or disease.”
At first blush this appears to threaten the Second Amendment rights of 2.7 million people already receiving Social Security disability payments plus another 1.5 million whose finances, for various reasons, are being handled by others. But according to Social Security, 8.8 million disabled Americans get a monthly check, as do another 50 million retirees, dependents, and survivors. A total of 165 million workers are covered under Social Security.
Critics say that once the new rules are installed, anyone who can’t balance a checkbook could have their rights rescinded.
The effort to expand the VA definition to the SSA caught the National Rifle Association by surprise. But when notified of the threat, Chris Cox, the group’s chief lobbyist, declared, “The NRA stands ready to pursue all available avenues to stop them in their tracks.”