Earlier this week, Trump signed a bill that nixed a previous regulation put in place by the Obama administration that would have barred anyone with a mental illness from purchasing a firearm. This bill was one in a series of efforts made by the Obama administration to prevent guns from falling into the hands of the wrong people. The Republican-led House of Representatives and Senate used the Congressional Review Act to send the bill straight to Trump’s desk in the oval office.
If the bill had been put into place, it would have required for the Social Security Administration to submit a quarterly report to the national gun background check system with information regarding any person with a mental illness. With this bill not having been implemented officially until Jan. 18, not that many people have actually faced the effects of it.
Those affected would be given both an oral and a written notice that they have been prevented from buying a gun or any other firearm. They would also be given the opportunity to request relief from the order by supplying evidence that proves that they do not pose an immediate threat to public safety.
Any bill that concerns gun regulation is going to be controversial, so naturally, there were parts of this bill that some people agreed with and other parts that people strongly disagreed with.
The National Rifle Association(NRA) as well as, surprisingly, the American Civil Liberties Union(ACLU) were strong opponents of this rule. The ACLU believe that by putting a regulation like this in place, the government was reinforcing the dangerous stereotype that all mentally ill people are violent criminals. They state that there is no direct correlation between the demand for disability benefits and gun violence. This goes along with the fact that anyone with a mental illness is more likely to be the victim of a violent crime than they are to be the perpetrator. Ultimately, the ACLU believe that this bill unfairly targets the wrong group of people.
Major supporters include gun control groups as well as activists for gun control. Essentially, they concluded that by preventing guns from entering the hands of mentally ill people, the number of suicides and accidental deaths would decrease. They also decided that the element of quarterly health reports were a positive thing.
The fact that President Trump overturned the bill suggests that there is now no specific law prohibiting any mentally ill person from purchasing a firearm. While this worries a good number of people, maybe the problem is not within the mental illness community, but the government that decides over gun laws and bills.