Feds to Deny Gun Rights to People of 'Subnormal Intelligence,' Other Benefit Recipients

P. Gardner Goldsmith | May 11, 2016
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On May 5, 2016, a handful of news agencies and websites erroneously reported that the Social Security Administration (SSA) was preparing to report to the FBI the “mentally ill” recipients of any SSA program, so that the Bureau could block them from legally purchasing or owning firearms. Scandalous headlines told us “Social Security Moves to Block Mentally Ill from Purchasing Guns.” But, that’s not quite right.

Such a move would be dangerous and bad enough - but, the reality is much worse than the SSA defining who is “mentally ill” and having the FBI put them on an unconstitutional “Do Not Buy/Own” list.

According to its post in the Federal Register, the SSA plans on reporting any “disability” or “benefits” recipient who: falls anywhere on the improperly-expanded “Autism disorder spectrum,” has been diagnosed with an “anxiety disorder,” cannot handle his or her own finances, or belongs to any one of myriad other categories defined by, you guessed it, the federal government. The public has sixty days to “offer comment” before the overlords who take their money and hand it out again will act.

If this seems to be not only completely poisonous to the US Constitution and the basic concept of rights itself, but also a slippery slope even if one accepts the faulty premise that this is a constitutionally provided power for any level of US government, you are not alone.

On July 18, 2015, Breitbart and the LA Times reported the first rumblings of this Obama Administration Executive Branch move, both explaining that the SSA was planning on blocking access to the Second Amendment for anyone on its recipient list who was deemed “unable to manage their own affairs due to ‘marked subnormal intelligence, or mental illness, incompetency, condition, or disease.’"

As Alan Zarembo noted in the LA Times, roughly 4.2 million Americans who have been deemed to be incapable of handling their own finances get SSA benefits. That means they could all be forced to hand over firearms they already own, and prohibited from buying any. And that giant group of 4.2 million is just a subset of the vast population which the SSA can redefine and expand anytime its bureaucrats like.

And, just what constitutes "subnormal intelligence," which types of intelligence (math, verbal or problem-solving, etc.) count, and who gets to define who's smart enough to own a gun?

Apart from the fact that the Constitution is clear about the individual right to self-defense not being infringed by any form of government (waiting lists, background checks and all other regulations are infringements not permitted by the Second Amendment), logic and statistics tell us that the act of owning a weapon does not bring harm to another, and that more guns in a population results in lower violent crime rates.

Meanwhile, prohibition of guns does not decrease the incidence of violent crime. After England imposed a Draconian gun ban in 1997, homicide rates increased dramatically while, during the same period, gun sales skyrocketed in the US and homicides decreased. Australia also saw an increase in gun-related crime after its 1996 “ban”.

As John Lott noted in his seminal analysis, “More Guns, Less Crime”, the presence of more citizens with guns inspires criminals to go elsewhere or engage in less confrontational crimes, thus reducing the incidence of violent crime.

The vast majority of firearms are used for peaceful purposes and defense, a fact that even skeptics have had to admit. Thus, even if one were to argue that the mere ownership of a firearm connoted the intent to use it, one would have to assume that the use would be peaceful and help deter crime, which does not fit the rationale of gun-banners and confiscators in the US.

The slippery slope of the SSA proposal is clear. They define who is “mentally unqualified”, and they send the information to the FBI. The federal government will take aggressive action against people who not only have the right to self-protection (especially elderly people), but who also have not threatened or harmed anyone merely by owning a piece of hardware.

In less than sixty days, the SSA will act on its threat. Don’t count on public testimony against it to stop them.