We're watching, guys

We're watching, guys

Postby Luke Skywalker » Fri Jan 27, 2017 8:16 am

Trump and the 115th Congress have an opportunity here - and we are watching.

Congress Should Rescind Social Security Regulation That Violates Civil Rights of Those with Disabilities
By Samantha Crane, Dara Baldwin, and Josh Blackman
This article appeared in The Hill (Online) on January 25, 2017.

Near the end of the Obama administration, a number of new regulations were published, including one from the Social Security Administration that crossed an unfortunate line. Under recently finalized rules, millions of Americans with a disability, who have shown no propensity to harm others, could be barred from acquiring firearms. This regulation stigmatizes Social Security recipients with a disability who request help to manage their financial affairs. Even worse, it deprives them of their civil rights without due process of law.

Fortunately, the 115th Congress can rescind this discriminatory rule through the Congressional Review Act, which allows the House and Senate to disapprove of a recently-finalized regulation. If the president agrees, the regulation is nullified. On this important issue, members on both sides of the aisle should stand together: individuals with a disability should not be scapegoated to advance gun control.

More than eight million Americans with a disability who receive monthly Social Security benefits need assistance to manage their finances. The Social Security Administration allows relatives, friends, or others to serve as their “representative payee,” and directly receive their monthly payments. Through its new regulation, a person with a disability who has a representative payee is now deemed “mentally defective,” and therefore barred from owning, transporting, or possessing firearms, if his or her entitlement to disability benefits stems from any kind of psychiatric disability.

There is no individual adjudication if the person poses a risk to others. Often representative payees are appointed based on “paper” investigations, without any requirement for a hearing or opportunity to challenge the record. This is a blanket rule that is in no sense compelled by federal law. Rather, it was encouraged by a footnote in an unpublished “guidance” document that the Justice Department refuses to release.

By virtue of this regulation, the Social Security recipient’s name is added to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). As a result, they would then flunk the background check to acquire a firearm.

Only after their name is added to the database can the decision be appealed. This process, which could take at least a year, forces the recipient to produce evidence, witnesses, and mental health records to justify the removal of her name from the NICS database. Moreover, to remove their name from all parts the database, he or she would have to undergo this process twice: once with the Social Security Administration, and another time with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.

This regime violates the most basic principles of due process, where the government—and not the individual—bears the burden of proof before depriving individuals of legally protected rights. Regardless of what one thinks of the overall gun control agenda, it is unconscionable to stigmatize and impose this onerous burden on innocent Americans with disabilities.

Beyond the constitutional infirmities, the rule is utterly unsound as a matter of policy. There is no link between gun violence and the types of disability targeted by the new regulation. In fact, a 2009 study of over 34,000 people showed that psychiatric disability alone did not increase the risk of any sort of violence, after controlling for factors such as past history of violence or substance abuse. Nor is there any evidence that other mental disabilities—such as intellectual disability or traumatic brain injury—are associated with violence. Rather, people with psychiatric disabilities are far more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators, with a victimization rate of up to 11 times that of the general population. This rule is premised on the unfortunate and antiquated stereotypes that persons with a disability are dangerous, and they must be further isolated from civil society.

Critically, the appointment of a “representative payee” in no way reflects on an applicant’s propensity to harm others. The law governing representative payees explicitly allows the Social Security Administration to appoint representative payees “regardless of the legal competency or incompetency of the qualified individual,” whenever it thinks that doing so is in the beneficiary’s best interests. For example, an agoraphobic person may have a fear of crowded Social Security offices, and request a representative payee. The person may have complete control over his or her affairs, and have no impairment of her ability of keep a firearm at home. But due to specific conditions, she benefits from having a representative appointed to handle Social Security payments. People with disabilities, who pose no harm to others, should not be forced to forego any of their protected rights as a condition of receiving federal benefits.

Targeting this population for placement on the NICS registry will not make us safer. Instead, it punishes and stigmatizes individuals for getting help with managing their benefits. This unfounded stigma can result in serious consequences. Many security, construction, transportation, and other similar businesses often require clearance through the NICS database, even for jobs that do not directly require the individual to handle explosives or carry a gun. Even if the representative-payee is appointed temporarily, an individual may be permanently barred from returning to the work force. Further, for those who enjoy hunting or other outdoor sports, placement on the registry can result in lost social and recreational opportunities—a grave consequence in light of the fact that people with psychiatric disabilities already suffer disproportionately from isolation.

Although the appropriate response to gun violence can be a divisive question, these new regulations should alarm civil rights advocates. We must not respond to gun violence by scapegoating the disability community. Advocates across the political spectrum should come together and oppose this misguided regulation.

Samantha Crane is an attorney and Director of Public Policy at the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. Dara Baldwin is the Senior Public Policy Analyst at the National Disability Rights Network. Josh Blackman is a constitutional law professor at the South Texas College of Law, Houston, and an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute.


Thanks, OBAMA
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Re: We're watching, guys

Postby exploited » Fri Jan 27, 2017 8:42 am

What is the problem, exactly?

If you cannot manage your own affairs due to a psychiatric illness, you should not have a firearm. If you need somebody to take your government cheque for you because you are scared to leave the house, again, you should not have a firearm.

The only thing to be added is that there needs to be a good, fast and quick process that allows people impacted by this law to appeal the decision. You could even accept notes from their doctor saying there is no known risk of violence or self-harm. I'm open to making it easier for those with disabilities, but this strikes me as a pretty sensible regulation overall.
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Re: We're watching, guys

Postby Luke Skywalker » Fri Jan 27, 2017 8:55 am

exploited wrote:What is the problem, exactly?

If you cannot manage your own affairs due to a psychiatric illness, you should not have a firearm. If you need somebody to take your government cheque for you because you are scared to leave the house, again, you should not have a firearm.


Did you even read the article?

Look: Most folks with psychiatric disabilities - who've been treated - are not dangerous. In fact, we're better off than "normal" folks who haven't been treated for anything. Our rights are being trampled on - and we are being unjustly stigmatized in the process. Would you deny coverage to cancer sufferers, just because THEY are on govt. disability? What about amputees, folks who are in wheel chairs for whatever reason? NO and of course not.

The problem lies with the government ignoring facts and deciding what's best for ALL of us. Any thinking man can see the dangers of this.
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Re: We're watching, guys

Postby Luke Skywalker » Fri Jan 27, 2017 8:57 am

exploited wrote:What is the problem, exactly?

If you cannot manage your own affairs due to a psychiatric illness, you should not have a firearm. If you need somebody to take your government cheque for you because you are scared to leave the house, again, you should not have a firearm.

The only thing to be added is that there needs to be a good, fast and quick process that allows people impacted by this law to appeal the decision. You could even accept notes from their doctor saying there is no known risk of violence or self-harm. I'm open to making it easier for those with disabilities, but this strikes me as a pretty sensible regulation overall.


You edited your response - your afterthought is noted.
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Re: We're watching, guys

Postby exploited » Fri Jan 27, 2017 9:03 am

I wouldn't deny medical coverage to anyone for any reason.

Medical coverage is not a gun.

I did read your article. One of the statistics cited is a pretty classic case of manipulating data to minimize the appearance of potential harm:

In fact, a 2009 study of over 34,000 people showed that psychiatric disability alone did not increase the risk of any sort of violence, after controlling for factors such as past history of violence or substance abuse.


In other words, after controlling for the exact things people are worried about and the very problems that lead to gun violence, and eliminating them from the data, there is no problem. Not exactly surprising.

In reality, if you cannot work and cannot function on your own, due to a serious mental illness, a gun is probably the worst possible addition you could make to your life. As noted in my edit, I would be open to allowing appeals of this, when the person can have a doctor provide evidence that they are competent to manage a firearm. This appeal process should be quick and fair. But beyond that, sorry, I would not support repealing this law.
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Re: We're watching, guys

Postby Luke Skywalker » Fri Jan 27, 2017 9:07 am

exploited wrote:I wouldn't deny medical coverage to anyone for any reason.

Medical coverage is not a gun.

I did read your article. One of the statistics cited is a pretty classic case of manipulating data to minimize the appearance of potential harm:

In fact, a 2009 study of over 34,000 people showed that psychiatric disability alone did not increase the risk of any sort of violence, after controlling for factors such as past history of violence or substance abuse.


In other words, after controlling for the exact things people are worried about and the very problems that lead to gun violence, and eliminating them from the data, there is no problem. Not exactly surprising.

In reality, if you cannot work and cannot function on your own, due to a serious mental illness, a gun is probably the worst possible addition you could make to your life. As noted in my edit, I would be open to allowing appeals of this, when the person can have a doctor provide evidence that they are competent to manage a firearm. This appeal process should be quick and fair. But beyond that, sorry, I would not support repealing this law.


I meant a "gun," not "coverage." Was up early this morning - didn't sleep last night.

Will get back to you on the rest of your post, later.
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Re: We're watching, guys

Postby Luke Skywalker » Fri Jan 27, 2017 9:25 am

exploited wrote:I did read your article. One of the statistics cited is a pretty classic case of manipulating data to minimize the appearance of potential harm:

In fact, a 2009 study of over 34,000 people showed that psychiatric disability alone did not increase the risk of any sort of violence, after controlling for factors such as past history of violence or substance abuse.


In other words, after controlling for the exact things people are worried about and the very problems that lead to gun violence, and eliminating them from the data, there is no problem. Not exactly surprising.

In reality, if you cannot work and cannot function on your own, due to a serious mental illness, a gun is probably the worst possible addition you could make to your life. As noted in my edit, I would be open to allowing appeals of this, when the person can have a doctor provide evidence that they are competent to manage a firearm. This appeal process should be quick and fair. But beyond that, sorry, I would not support repealing this law.


You make a valid point. From my experience, folks who've abuse drugs and alcohol (and, I confess, I was thinking more about disorders related to my own when I posted) are more likely to be the ones with "anger issues." Domestic violence, for instance.

I never was into the drinking and drugging scene, personally - alcoholism and drug addiction are not part of my disability. I've had doctors and psychologists tell me to go ahead and go hunting in the Maine woods - so, I do.

If folks don't support repealing this law, then I could live with the compromise you've proposed.
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Re: We're watching, guys

Postby spacemonkey » Fri Jan 27, 2017 12:33 pm

I will be glad to see the extortion (penalty) part of Obama care go.
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