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CRAMER: House Passes Disapproval of Social Security Rule Infringing on the Right to Buy Guns

Feb 2, 2017
Press Release

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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Congressman Kevin Cramer supported a joint resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives protecting the rights of Social Security recipients to buy guns. The resolution passed today by a vote of 235 to 180.

H.J. Res. 40, which Cramer is co-sponsoring, uses the Congressional Review Act to disapprove of a Social Security Administration (SSA) regulation, which became final the end of December. The regulation adds individuals to “no buy“ lists for purchasing firearms by sharing  information with the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).  

Championed by the Obama Administration, the regulation places as many as 75,000 Social Security disability beneficiaries a year into the NICS, which is used to prevent sales of firearms to individuals, such as felons, drug addicts and illegal immigrants. These beneficiaries are individuals who receive Social Security disability insurance or supplemental security income (SSI) payments and also meet certain other criteria, including a determination that their mental impairment meets or medically equals the requirements for receiving benefits through a representative payee.

The SSA uses a series of factors to determine if certain recipients receiving disability insurance or SSI have been “adjudicated as a mental defective,” making them federally prohibited from possessing firearms. Individuals entered into NICS under this rule can appeal for relief from the federal prohibition on possessing a firearm, but only after their name has already been listed.

Since first proposed, Cramer has spoken out against this rule. “Stripping away the rights of individuals without due process is an affront against those who have committed no crime,” he said. “It is inappropriate to categorically presume that individuals who need assistance managing their Social Security payments are also incapable of properly owning a firearm. Furthermore, nowhere in this rule is the individual’s actual propensity to violence even a factor in the SSA determination process.”

Cramer said this regulation opens the door to future overreach by other federal agencies.  “This rule gives government bureaucrats the power and discretion to deny law-abiding citizens their Second Amendment rights by deeming them mentally incompetent in NICS without due process,” he said.

”The Second Amendment shouldn’t be treated differently than every other Constitutional amendment,”said Cramer. “It should be up to an independent adjudicator or a jury of their peers to determine whether individuals are mentally competent to buy a firearm before they lose their rights.”

The Congressional Review Act (CRA) provides an expedited legislative process for Congress to disapprove of administrative rules through joint disapproval resolutions. Regulations issued by executive branch departments and agencies, independent agencies and commissions, are subject to CRA disapproval resolutions.  Under this law, there is a 60-day period in which to pass a resolution of disapproval from when the rule is reported to Congress.  When both the Senate and House pass a disapproval resolution that is signed by the President, the rule either does not go into effect or is considered as not having gone into effect. 


Disability Organizations Supporting H.J. Res. 40


American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD)

Association of Mature American Citizens

Autism Self Advocacy Network 

Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law

Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Rights Task Force

Disability Rights Law Center (DRLC) Alaska 

National Alliance on Mental Illness

National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy

National Association for Rural Mental Health

National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Directors

National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery

National Council on Disability

National Council on Independent Living

National Disability Leadership Alliance

National Disability Rights Network

New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services

Safari Club International

The Arc of the United States