PERSONS WITH MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES AND THEIR RIGHT TO POSSESS A GUN- PART 1
Discussion of whether persons with mental health issues should lose their right to possess a firearm because they receive Social Security benefits with a representative payee.
OverviewThe United States was created on the premise that possession of guns and the right to arm oneself was a right of the individual. This right is not without exceptions and individuals who have been adjudicated to be mentally incompetent or involuntarily committed to a mental institution cannot possess a gun. But what about persons who have not been adjudicated incompetent or involuntarily committed? What about persons who receive Social Security disability benefits because they are autistic, bipolar, depressed or anxious to a degree that they are unable to work and a money manager handles their finances? Should they be precluded from gun ownership?
The Regulation at IssueUnder the Obama administration, persons receiving SSI with a representative payee, such as a person with autism who had no intellectual impairment and no language impairment, a person with agoraphobia or social anxiety disorder would have been forbidden from keeping a firearm in their home for self-defense.
The Argument In Favor of Preservation of 2nd Amendment RightsThe strange bedfellows of the ACLU and the NRA fought this regulation on the basis that that without a judicial determination, the constitutional rights of those with mental issues were being arbitrarily abridged. Additionally, the inability of persons to work or manage their money did not correlate to increased likelihood to commit violence. Research shows that the cohort with serious mental health issues was no more likely than the general population to use a firearm to harm others or themselves.
ConclusionThis order was rescinded but persons with mental health issues and especially those who depend on government aid are a particularly vulnerable group and cannot be treated as a lesser class. We must avoid disparate treatment whenever possible.