Trump Repeals Rule Limiting People With Severe Mental Illnesses From Buying Guns


On Tuesday, Donald Trump signed into law a piece of legislation which overturns an Obama-era regulation designed to prevent those with “severe mental illnesses” from buying guns. Earlier in February, both the House and the Senate voted to overturn the measure, passing it to Trump’s desk for his signature.

The Obama rule, created in response to the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, required the Social Security Administration (SSA) to report those receiving disability benefits for mental illnesses to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System. The rule was set to be implemented starting December 2017, and would have prevented 75,000 people from buying guns.

Since voting began to overturn the rule, many have voiced their support for and against the measure. In a speech to his fellow Senators, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) urged Republicans to uphold the measure, stating:

If you’re mentally ill, you’re probably more likely to be the victim of violence than you are to be the perpetrator of it. But we do know that in this country, given the fact that weapons are so easy to come by, people with mental illness, serious mental illness, who have an intersection with visions of violence often do great harm.

If you can’t manage your own financial affairs, how can we expect you are going to be a responsible steward of a dangerous, lethal firearm? And we’re talking about a very limited group of individuals here who, by the way, under the regulation, have due process to contest the determination.

Other lawmakers, disability groups and mental health advocates, argued the rule violated the civil rights of those living with mental illnesses. “I have been diagnosed as ‘severely mentally ill’ and to many people I shouldn’t be allowed to own a gun,” Rudy Caseres, a mental health advocate, told The Mighty. “Even though I don’t personally like guns, I see this is a civil rights issue. The restriction cast too wide a net that resulted in people who reject their diagnosis being discriminated against.”

Image credit: Michael Vadon


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Mental Health

illustration of a couple looking at each other

To My Future Boyfriend: Thank You for Understanding My Depression and Anxiety

Dear Future Boyfriend, Hey… hey there. Um, this is going to sound weird but I’m actually not sure you’re real. I’m honestly still questioning why you continue to stick with me. There are moments, ones where you take my breath away or make me smile or cry with me, that I second-guess our entire relationship. [...]
colorful painting of sun umbrellas and loungers on beach

When a Coworker Told Me I Would 'Feel Better' if I Went to the Beach

“I don’t feel good.” That’s all I can say. That’s all I know. I don’t know why I don’t feel good. I don’t know what exactly I’m feeling. It’s not bad, it’s not OK, but it’s definitely not good. I’m in that “stuck in the middle” stage of my illness. Except, there really isn’t a [...]
Illustration of person holding balloons, standing in front of storm in various colors

Let's Talk About Affordable Self-Care

It would be super great if my anxiety could dissolve like a bath bomb in warm water. I’ve heard it said that the chemicals in my brain can dance with lavender, that an arsenal of scented candles and Bath & Body Works lotion will allow me to finally unwind. These days the Internet is crowded [...]
empty seats and two microphones

When My School Said Students Couldn't Speak at Our Mental Health Assembly

Going to an elite, private prep school in New York City definitely comes with its challenges. My school specifically prides itself on its progressive curriculum and programs that discuss controversial topics such as race and gender. Multiple days a year, we have assemblies and what we call “FAD”s (full awareness days), where we actually spend [...]