What The House Vote On Mental Illness And Gun Background Checks Means

The U.S. House of Representatives voted to end an Obama-era rule that had the Social Security Administration sharing certain info with the FBI.
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What The House Vote On Mental Illness And Gun Background Checks Means

On Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to repeal an Obama-era rule affecting background checks for guns.

The rule requires the Social Security Administration to share certain information with the FBI's criminal background check system.

Specifically, the SSA would have to give the FBI info on any person with a "documented mental health issue" who can't manage their disability benefits without a representative.

The Obama administration estimated the rule would affect roughly 75,000 people.

The House voted 235-180 — mostly along party lines — to repeal the regulation, which went into effect just a couple of days before former President Barack Obama left office.

Opponents of the regulation, including the National Rifle Association, praised the move as a victory for Second Amendment rights.

But many disability rights advocates, and some House Republicans, praised the move for another reason. They say the rule unfairly stigmatized some people with disabilities.

"This is a slap in the face of those in the disabled community because it paints all those who suffer from mental disorders with the same broad brush," House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte said.

It's important to note that overturning the rule won't do away with background checks or end the federal restriction that keeps some people with mental illnesses from buying guns.

It just means the SSA won't have to report to the FBI's background check system. But that's something supporters of the rule say is necessary to keep people safe.

"These are people with a severe mental illness who can't hold any kind of job or make any decisions about their affairs," said U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson of California.

The Senate is expected to pass the appeal soon.

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