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Trump Took a Break from Fearmongering to Approve Good Gun Rights Bill

Due process protections preserved for those getting Social Security benefits.

gun voterPatsy Lynch/Polaris/NewscomPresident Donald Trump signed a measure yesterday striking down a gun control regulation that compromised the rights of a small group of people on the basis of being classified by the Social Security Administration as having a mental illness.

The bill has been widely misinterpreted and misunderstood, possibly deliberately so. Brian Doherty in early February noted how media and gun control advocates presented this bill as something that would put weapons in the hands of severely mentally ill people.

That's not what the initial regulation did at all, and Trump signing this measure doesn't actually give extremely mentally ill people the federal stamp of approval to go stockpile weapons. This regulation, organized via executive action under President Barack Obama, used lists of people on Social Security who have been diagnosed with mental illnesses and also have others handling their finances as a blanket mechanism to potentially deny them gun purchases.

Such a system turns concepts of due process and the right to self-defense on their heads. Those who would have gotten caught up in this list—an estimated 75,000-80,000 of them—would have to fight the federal government to prove that they were not a danger and should be allowed to retain their gun rights. This is the reverse of how it should work. The government is supposed to prove that a particular person's mental illness is a disqualifying factor, not just use inclusion on some government list as shorthand.

Thus, this rule was opposed not just by the National Rifle Association, but by more than a dozen groups that represent the interests of people with disabilities and mental health issues. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) also opposed it. They all understood this wasn't really a fight about keeping guns out of the hands of dangerously mentally ill; it was about using bureaucratic tools and data to pre-emptively deny people their rights and then making them fight with the government to prove they should have these rights restored.

Yet not two weeks after the due process problems of these gun restrictions were explained, the New York Times editorial board completely ignored the background and acted like this effort to rescind the rule was a conspiracy between the Republicans and the National Rifle Association (NRA). The headline, "Congress Says, Let the Mentally Ill Buy Guns," should be perceived at this point as a deliberate choice to mislead the reader. At no point at the editorial does it even reference the due process concerns or acknowledge that the ACLU and NRA (and several groups with no connection to gun ownership controversies) are all on the same side here. Democrats who voted with the GOP are dismissed on the basis of being "up for re-election next year."

If these were any other issue other than gun ownership, have no doubt that the brilliant minds of the Times editorial crew would fully grasp the due process concerns. If the feds used such a list to try to deprive people of other types of property, the Times would certainly see the constitutional implications here.

But it's guns, and when guns are involved some folks would prefer to ignore not just the Second Amendment, but the Fourth as well. That's what brought us all the awful "No Fly, No Buy" movement, where Democratic leaders attempted to deny people's right to own guns on the basis of their inclusion on the government's extremely secretive terror watch lists and "no fly" lists. The ACLU, who has been fighting the government over the no-fly lists, also opposed using such a system to deny guns because of the lack of due process.

Trump, interestingly enough, also declared support during the campaign for using terror watch lists to deny gun rights, so it's relevant that he signed on here to preserve due process rights over fearmongering about violence. He certainly didn't show much interest in due process in his address last night. Nevertheless, he did the right thing here.

That terrible Times editorial came to mind when watching this hilariously bad NRA commercial attacking the newspaper's coverage. The Times decided to run ads during the Academy Awards on Sunday, and this NRA ad attempts to mock it for its claims of being vanguards of the truth. The ad is "hilariously bad" because it falls into a familiar trap of media criticism—it claims that the Times and "elite media" are not covering stories while using clips of those events, presented by the media itself. It's not unusual to see somebody complain on social media that the "mainstream media" isn't covering something attached to a link to a news story from a major outlet about that very thing.

But to the extent the NRA's ad strikes a nerve it's because of factors like this terrible editorial the Times published that deliberately conceals and ignores the full context and potential consequences of the terrible regulation they're defending. People who understand guns (heck, even people like me who know little about guns but are big on due process) see the constant mistakes and misrepresentations of issues related to gun ownership, and they remember this stuff. That editorials and opinions are separated from news coverage doesn't excuse these factual misrepresentations, especially when it looks like it's deliberate, as it does here.

Photo Credit: Patsy Lynch/Polaris/Newscom

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  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    Due process? We don't need no stink'n due process! We're about protecting children here!

    You don't HATE children, do you?

  • Fuck you, Shikha (Nunya)||

    I do, but I don't see why that makes me bad.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    I always like to get my social signaling done right in the headline. Saves time.

  • Bubba Jones||

    NYT FAKE NEWS
    SAD!

  • Gilbert Martin||

    Once upon a time the New York Times was not so anti-gun as it is today.

    When the New York draft riots were happening back during the Civil War, the New York Times defended it's building against the rioters with a gatling gun.

  • WakaWaka||

    That was back before Glenn Thrush peed sitting down. So that was a long time ago

  • Daily Beatings||

    William Conant Church, one of the founders of the NRA, was a journalist for the New York Times.

  • dantheserene||

    Yay for one of my favorite obscure pistols in the photo. H&K P7M8.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    compromised the rights of a small group of people on the basis of being classified by the Social Security Administration as having a mental illness.

    Is this literally what was going on? The SSA was classifying people themselves? Were they using criteria from the American Psychiatric Association?

  • Scott S.||

    They were getting SSA benefits on the basis of disclosed mental health issues.

  • Longtobefree||

    And had been so overwhelmed by the bureaucracy they had designated an alternate payee to have the ability to fight the SSA on their behalf.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Huh.

    Under ADA, Gender Identity Disorder is expressly acknowledged to be a disability and expressly called out that it is a disability. Moreover it is a disability that is expressly excluded from benefits. See Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Section 511, codified at 42 U.S.C. 12211(b)(1). http://www.ada.gov/pubs/adastatute08.htm

    SSI benefits for SEVERE depression is possible. But NOT if the depression is connected to any of transvestism, transsexualism, pedophilia, exhibitionism, voyeurism, gender identity disorders not resulting from physical impairments, or other sexual behavior disorders; compulsive gambling, kleptomania, or pyromania; psychoactive substance use disorders resulting from current illegal use of drugs.

    Thus, if you want to get SSI it is necessary to ensure that the Feds do not find out about your GID if you have it.

    It is often said that most criminals in prison are there because they convicted themselves out of their own mouths. Every thing you don't say to a mental health professional is something that cannot be used against you in a context of SSI.
  • Cynical Asshole||

    Probably people on disability due to mental illness. Not sure what the criteria is for being able to claim disability due to mental illness. Or what the definition of mental illness is for the purpose of claiming disability. It's possible that it doesn't just include people who are schizophrenic or bi-polar or other conditions listed in the DSM. It may include people who have conditions that prevent them being able to work and earn a living (allegedly) but aren't a danger to themselves or others.

    Either way, it's a clear violation of due process to deny people their rights because of their inclusion on some government list. We'll have to wait and see if Trump is consistent on this issue if and/or when a "no fly, no buy" bill comes to his desk (since he supported it during the campaign).

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    See my link above. It looks like SSA takes a list of mental disorders, and either allows or disallows benefits for disorders. I got some intersectionality curiosity going on and wondered if Gender Dysphoria (for example) was something you could get benefits for, meaning further, you might be denied a firearm for being transgender. It appears not, because SSA recognizes Gender Dysphoria as a genuine disorder, but SSA doesn't give benefits for it.

    Yes, the whole thing is a very scary violation of due process. A benefits organization shouldn't be denying people their constitutional rights based on a bureaucrat sitting in an office with no windows.

    The NYT can suck it.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    My understanding is that the ban was for people that use the Rep Payee program. To be eligibile, a psych provider must attest that you are unable to manage your money. If SS agrees then they get a rep payee manager to handle your money. You are not paid directly. The rep payee gets your check, pays your bills, and gives you an allowance.

    I am not under the impression that the ban covered people outside of the Rep Payee program. Asking SS to report people by diagnosis would be troublesome by nature and probably unlawful. But it's easy to say people in that program have a psych Dx, and we will ban them. No inquiry about Dx needed.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    To be eligibile, a psych provider must attest that you are unable to manage your money.

    God help blue state municipal governments if a psych provider ever takes a hard look at them.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    Yeah, feds too.

    I'm in NYC and NYS has the SAFE Act which require psych providers to report any patient they believe is harmful to themselves or others. I've worked with psych providers and I've had a few conversations about that law. Not a one I spoke to likes it, not one. Ends up that the mental health profession has been working for a couple of decades to remove stigmas that come with mental health treatment, including the notion that you will be treated differently by government as a result of your treatment. The ones I spoke to fear it will set them back.

    I've used the example of service men returning from combat and having to decide if they want treatment or to keep the 2A right. In NYS anyway.

  • Longtobefree||

    NYT "all the news that fits, we print"

  • Half-Virtue, Half-Vice||

    Trump took a break from fearmongering

    Yeah but did he? Or is this like one of those moments when you've been left in the hole for a quite a while without the lotion guy coming by to resupply you? Which to me would seem like a different sort of terror drawn out by anticipation of the next torturous event. I'm not quite sure -- is that what it feels like to you my good man?

    If so than this line is dishonest "Trump took a break from fearmongering" because there was no actual "break" (pause) to the fear. Perhaps you are speaking truthfully though, I cannot tell anymore so I must ask; did the fear you feel actually abate for a moment?

  • Ceci n'est pas un woodchipper||

    I know I should not get my hopes up for philosophical consistency from the president on civil liberty issues, but still ...

    Well why in the hell would you expect philosophical consistency from a politician? A politician is a person who has decided to make a career out of convincing 51% of a crowd to vote for him or her over someone else. Politics is a business. A successful politician gives the electorate what they think they want.

    It's like the Starbucks cappuccino. That's not a real cappuccino. It's way, way too wet, for one thing. If Starbucks was philosophically consistent, they'd make it correctly. And then Americans wouldn't buy it, and they'd complain, and they'd go to Dunkin' Donuts and get what they want.

    People don't vote for principled idealists, they vote for people who will do what they want. Trump is doing what his voters want him to do. Some of that coincides with libertarian issues. When it does, consider it a stroke of good fortune and move on.

  • Snort||

    Lets start with the second Amendment: "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." Using "original intent" and based on the supporting documents I am familiar with, this Amendment clearly references the need for states to establish militias to protect themselves from an overbearing federal government. As I see it, and I'm not a constitutional scholar, this puts the entire foundation of this article in jeopardy. Since most Americans support a more "activist" interpretation of this Amendment you are, as I see it, safe. Personally I would like to see more "originalist" court members and a more "accurate" interpretation of the Constitution.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    http://www.guncite.com/journals/hardhist.html

    the Militia, sometimes wrongly analogized as The National Guard by gun control movement was not there to be a supplement to the standing army, but was necessary to keep the standing army at bay.

    There are other phrases often glossed over in the historical texts, that the militia and its officers was to be chosen among the men themselves. Meaning there was no direction or proscribed method handed down from the state. Self defense and security were by definition, distributed amongst the people.

  • KevinP||

    Speaking of justification clauses:

    In criminal prosecutions, the trial of facts in the vicinity where they happen, is so essential to the security of the life, liberty and estate of the citizen, that no crime or offence ought to be tried in any other county than that in which it is committed . . . .

    New Hampshire Const. pt. I, art. XVII (1784). Source: The Commonplace Second Amendment http://www2.law.ucla.edu/volokh/common.htm

    Question: In New Hampshire, can a crime be tried in a county other than which it was committed? Even when it might actually move the trial closer to the scene of the crime, depending on the location of the county courthouse?

    And if not, how does this illuminate the justification clause of the Second Amendment?

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    """Using "original intent" and based on the supporting documents I am familiar with, this Amendment clearly references the need for states to establish militias to protect themselves from an overbearing federal government.""

    The text does not define any threat to free state, although if an overbearing fed became a security risk of the free state, it would count. But other threats would count too.

    The text is very clear about what right the 2A covers "the right of the people to keep and bear arms" and who that right belongs "the people". People can debate why the people have a right to keep and bear arms, but it's BS to think it doesn't belong to the people when it clearly, very clearly, says so. The reason isn't even that important.

    The milita did not supply arms, owning one was a requirement to join the militia. Therefore the it makes no sense when the people say the right belongs to the milita. Why would a right to keep arms be given to a group that does not have them? It doesn't. The idea was to protect the right of the citizen (people) to own arms so they would be eligible to join a militia.

  • buybuydandavis||

    Reason Headline Template: but

  • buybuydandavis||

    (Wiki got confused on special characters)

    Reason Headline Template: [We hate Trump statement] but [Trump does something really libertarian]

  • aajax||

    On the other hand, if an Amendment were put to a popular vote which enabled regulation of guns as in other advanced countries such as Australia, I would bet that it would have majority support in this country. 11,000 murders by firearms every year is a public health hazard.

  • Fuck you, Shikha (Nunya)||

    Nice one, dumbass.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    Then by all means fucking move to Australia. And by the way numb-nuts, actual crime has gone DOWN in the US by about 50% over the past 20 years, in spite of more people like myself owning guns and acquiring a conceal carry permit.

    WE are not the problem fuckwad. The problem IS repeat offenders, in liberal Democratic strongholds like Chicago. Where the police are seldom if ever surprised by the identity of the shooter and their victim, as they are almost always repeat felons. Who are repeatedly released back onto the streets to commit more crimes.

    If you are truly concerned about the "public health hazard" as you so blithely identify it, then focus your efforts on criminals, and not some fucking pseudo panacea of monolithic gun control that affects non criminals for more significantly than it does wrong doers.

    The compliance rate in Australia, by the way, is estimated to be about 19% of gun owners turning in their now banned weapons [congratulation, as with Conn. and NY they made otherwise law abiding persons into defacto felons]; they also have a thriving black market, and homicides have dropped from about 350 a year to 300....

    Did I say fuck you enough, asshole?

  • Banquo||

    The fuck is a Yaris?

    Damn spambots making up car names.......

  • ranrod||

    DSM expansion - the perfect weapon. Didn't one of the 2 "Doctors" who wrote the DSM 5 blow the whistle that they were unethically pressured and threatened by the feds to "expand" the criteria and definition of "mental illness". Nobody wants to talk about that though. Why would there be pressure put on the them to "expand" those illnesses to include virtually everyone unless it was to turn it into a pseudo-scientific political weapon? They knew what they were doing.

  • ranrod||

    Mental health gun control is a weapon against the people is communist in origin..

    Dominate the psychiatric profession and use mental health laws as a means of gaining coercive control over those who oppose Communist goals.

    Deceptive Transformation: The Truth of Soviet Influence in America and Gun Control..
    The idea of using mental health as a weapon against the people is communist in origin, and the social sciences, or the studying of human behavior has its roots in early twentieth century Russia when Ivan Pavlov developed his "classical conditioning" theories. In fact, Pavlov was disturbed that Vladimir Lenin would use these conditioning methods against the people in order to get them to accept communism. Since that time the social sciences have been used as a means of maintaining control over populations and getting them to accept their own down fall. This is happening today in the United States as our universities and public schools have long ago adopted educational techniques based on the social sciences and classical conditioning methods.

  • ranrod||

    Subjects like White Privilege and Multiculturalism are used to demoralize our population, create a guilt consciousness and silence us into accepting a new agenda based on the idea that we have been unfair, and our lifestyles are oppressive, and offensive to others. This agenda dates back to the early twentieth century; however, it saw some of its most major advances in the mid 1900's after the U.N. was created in 1945. While many people today view the Democrat Party as being made mostly of communists or socialists; the sad truth is that the Republican Party is just as responsible for what we are seeing in education and culture in the United States today.

  • ranrod||

    There are over 370 "mental disorders" listed in the latest version of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.) The list includes "Tobacco Addiction Disorder" among other equally mundane and ridiculous so-called "mental illnesses."

    If the DSM is the standard by which politicians wishes to remove our rights to own guns, then I'd guess 90% of the American people could probably be classified with a mental disorder of one kind or another.

    BEWARE, BEWARE

  • LifeStrategies||

    Trump does something good, and your headline still slams him! Is it that difficult to pay a compliment to someone who's doing something right???

    Same on you Shackford and shame on you Reason..

    Reason's incessant negativity is a real turn-off...

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