2017 News Releases

AG Derek Schmidt asks Congress to protect Second Amendment rights of Social Security beneficiaries

Release Date: Feb 02, 2017

TOPEKA – (February 2, 2017) – Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has asked Congressional leaders to take action to protect Second Amendment rights of Social Security beneficiaries.

A group of 13 state attorneys general, including Schmidt, yesterday urged congressional leaders to repeal an overreaching federal regulation that denies certain Social Security beneficiaries the right to keep and bear arms. In late December 2016, the Social Security Administration (SSA) under then-President Obama’s direction published a final rule that broadened a previously narrow prohibition for those “adjudicated as a mental defective or who have been committed to a mental institution” to include numerous individuals that Congress never intended to cover with this exclusion, such as program beneficiaries with representatives or alternate payees.

The Gun Control Act of 1968 prohibits individuals who have been “adjudicated as a mental defective” or who have been “committed to a mental institution” from possessing a firearm or ammunition. Additionally, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System Improvement Act of 2007 requires federal agencies to provide the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) with the names of individuals who are “mental defectives.”

This new rule allows the SSA to designate an individual a “mental defective” by its own discretion and relies heavily on overly broad definitions included in previous unpromulgated guidance from the U.S. Department of Justice.

“The processes of the Social Security Administration were designed to ensure beneficiaries who need help managing their money can get that help,” Schmidt said. “They were not designed to determine whether a beneficiary should be denied the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. This new federal rule, which was advanced in the final weeks of the Obama administration, is arbitrary, fails to satisfy the constitutional requirements of due process, and should be revoked.”

A copy of the attorneys generals’ letter to Congressional leaders is available at http://bit.ly/2kVMGzu.

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News releases issued prior to 2011 are available through an archive hosted by the Kansas State Library.