Should SSD Recipients with Mental Illness Lose Their Guns?

social security card and a gun

In light of increasing reports of gun violence, the right to own a gun and the requirements for carrying a lethal weapon have been fiercely debated throughout the nation. Proponents for stricter gun licensing often advocate taking steps to prevent those with a history of mental illness from obtaining a weapon as one of the key elements in reducing gun-related deaths.

As part of these efforts, the Social Security Administration is currently moving forward with plans to report people receiving Social Security Disability benefits for mental disorders to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in order to prevent them from legally purchasing guns. While the right to bear arms is protected by the Second Amendment, should people with mental illness and SSD benefits lose this right, or are SSD and guns two matters that should remain separate?

SSD and Gun Regulation

A May 2016 news report on SSD and gun regulation in The Hill states that the Social Security Administration (SSA) has proposed a rule to begin notifying people receiving SSD benefits for severe mental disorders of the SSA’s intent to report them to the FBI in order to prevent them from being licensed to own or carry a gun. As one of the latest steps to reduce gun violence, the proposal acts as an additional way to address the general public’s concerns to keep gun out of the hands of the mentally ill.

The proposal stems from a 2013 memorandum from President Obama that urged aggressively blocking gun ownership from people with mental disorders in the interests of public safety. The president’s memorandum came on the heels of the December 2012 Newtown, Connecticut mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, which killed 20 children and six adults. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), reports that the shooter suffered from undiagnosed schizophrenia added fuel to the commonly held belief that mental illness causes gun violence, an assumption the NIH claims is distorted by misguided stereotypes and public perception.

Mental Illness, Gun Violence, and the Second Amendment

NIH research indicates that for decades, there have been fierce debates on the connection between mental illness and gun violence. While there are undoubtedly incidents where shootings have involved those with mental illness, the NIH states there is no clear indication that a person diagnosed with a mental condition is more likely to use a gun in a violent act than any other person.

As for using mental illness and SSD benefits as a way to screen and block people from owning a gun, the Washington Times reports that disability and pro-gun advocates claim that the proposal would potentially ban millions of otherwise responsible people from gun ownership and strip them of their Second Amendment rights.

Let Us Assist You with Your SSD Claim Today

If you suffer from a physical or mental disability that prevents you from earning a living, the Disability Attorneys of Michigan are here to assist you in obtaining the SSD benefits you deserve. We understand the hurdles that often arise in applying for and receiving the benefits you are entitled to, as well as the obstacles and controversies that can arise out of filing a claim, such as the recent proposal concerning the SSD and guns.

Serving Detroit and the rest of Michigan, our office can help you get the benefits you deserve. Contact our experienced Social Security Disability attorneys today to get the professional legal representation you need to ensure your rights and interests are protected.

I will never forget you and the hard work you did to secure my Social Security Disability benefits. Thank you!

- Christine C.