US Congress Moves to Strip Gun Ban for Mentally Disabled


A customer tests a Glock at Guns-R-Us in Phoenix, Arizona, in 2012.

  • A customer tests a Glock at Guns-R-Us in Phoenix, Arizona, in 2012. | Photo: Reuters

As part of the ban around 75,000 people with mental disabilities would be barred from purchasing firearms.

The United States Congress voted on Wednesday to block a gun regulation that would prevent thousands of people with mental disabilities from purchasing weapons. Passed by the Republican-led house, the legislation will now be sent to President Donald Trump.

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The move was passed by 57 votes to 43 in the Republican-controlled Congress. The U.S. Senate has also backed the legislation and the White House expects Trump to sign the law into action, according to the Associated Press.

Former President Barack Obama proposed the restriction following the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting where 20 students and six staff members were killed at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.

The shooter, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, shot dead his mother with her own gun and killed himself after the school shooting. Lanza is believed to have had a number of mental conditions including Asperger’s syndrome, obsessive-compulsive disorder and was battling with anxiety before the shooting.

The regulation would prevent around 75,000 people with mental disabilities from purchasing firearms, where names of citizens receiving social security benefits for mental impairments were fed to authorities. Only those receiving benefits for their disability would be banned under the rule.

Republican Senator Charles Grassley from Iowa is a key figure behind repealing the restriction and said it stigmatizes disabled citizens and criticized the list of mental disorders covered in the ban such as eating and sleeping disorders.

“If a specific individual is likely to be violent due to the nature of their mental illness, then the government should have to prove it,” Grassley added.

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The National Rifle Association and a number of disabled advocacy groups also backed the repeal. The ACLU was concerned that the rule would stigmatize and stereotype people with mental disabilities as violent.

Republicans have continued to peel back a number of Obama-era reforms on gun control. Democrats have been critical of the repeal efforts, arguing that regulations will make it safer for people with mental disabilities and the general public.

“If you can’t manage your own financial affairs, how can we expect that you’re going to be a responsible steward of a dangerous, lethal firearm,” said Senator Chris Murphy from Connecticut.

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