During the back-and-forth public battle over the Social Security Administration gun grab resulting from an executive order from President Obama late in his presidency, one of the more surprising groups to speak out in favor of Second Amendment rights was the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
The rule change would have required the SSA to gather the IDs of anyone receiving benefits who also has a proxy handling their finances, regardless of the reason and with no adjudication, and report them to the NICS background system, preventing them from buying or owning firearms. This would have impacted an estimated 75,000 individuals.
This month, Congress repealed the rule before it could go into effect.
Vania Leveille, the ACLU’s senior legislative counsel, and Susan Mizner, a disability counsel, penned an editorial for USA Today outlining the group’s response to the issue.
“The American Civil Liberties Union does not oppose gun control laws. As an organization dedicated to defending all constitutional rights, we believe the Second Amendment allows reasonable restrictions to promote public safety.”
“But gun control laws, like any law, should be fair, effective and not based on prejudice or stereotype. This rule met none of those criteria.
“In this era of ‘alternative facts,’ we must urge politicians to create laws based on reliable evidence and solid data.”
“The thousands of Americans whose disability benefits are managed by someone else range from young people with depression and financial inexperience to older adults with Down syndrome needing help with a limited budget. But no data — none — show that these individuals have a propensity for violence in general or gun violence in particular.”
The editorial goes on to outline an argument that gun rights advocates would be familiar with: that many proposed and enacted gun laws don’t have a lot of proof that they will impact the problem they are supposedly attempting to address—while pointing out the absurdity of disarming some of society’s most vulnerable members.
“Data show that young, white men are most likely to be mass shooters—the issue that politicians care most about, despite accounting for a tiny fraction of gun violence. And men under 35 commit most murders. Shall we enter all young men into the national database? The statistical correlation with gun violence would be stronger.”
The piece ends by saying, “We opposed it because it would do little to stem gun violence but do much to harm our civil rights.”