FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty blasted a House vote Thursday that she said "was about weakening our firearms background check system, plain and simple” and that would "make the American people less safe."
The House passed H.J.Res. 40, which prohibits the Social Security Administration from reporting information to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
“Instead of working to improve the existing rule, today’s bill bans the Social Security Administration from reporting data to the background check system altogether," said Esty (D-5th District).
“We could have had a bipartisan process that balanced both public safety and the rights of individuals with disabilities," she said. "Instead, the House charged ahead with an extreme, hastily written, one-sided measure that would make the American people less safe. The only winners are the gun lobby and those opposed to bipartisan efforts to forge consensus and solve problems.”
In 2007, Congress approved by voice vote legislation to ensure that agencies that have records about individuals who are prohibited from possessing firearms under the 1968 gun safety law are reporting that information to NICS. Under current regulations, SSA is following the lead of other agencies and enforcing laws that have been on the books for decades.
The SSA regulation sets a high bar when determining whether its beneficiaries should be reported to NICS. Under the regulation, it’s estimated that only 75,000 individuals will be reported annually: these are individuals with the most significant mental disabilities, who are unable to earn any income due to their disability, and have been found incapable of managing their own benefits.
The agency also provides for a robust appeals process for those who disagree with SSA’s determination about their capacity to manage their own benefits, or believe they do not meet the NICS criteria and should be removed from the system.
H.J.Res. 40 would ban reporting by the SSA entirely.
Esty, a Democrat, represents the 5th Congressional District in northwestern Connecticut, which includes Bethel, Brookfield, Danbury, New Fairfield, Newtown, and Sherman.