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in our sights: the sandy hook repeal

Emily Degan

Over the past week, you’ve probably heard a lot about the so-called “Sandy Hook” rule. That’s because on Tuesday, President Donald Trump signed into law its repeal. So, we took an unbiased look at what that means for Americans.

Implemented by the Obama administration after the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the rule required the Social Security Administration to report the names of people receiving disability benefits for mental health conditions to the FBI. The FBI maintains a database used during background checks to determine eligibility to purchase a firearm. The Sandy Hook rule was expected to add about 75,000 names to that database.

Opponents of the rule, which included both the ACLU and the NRA, claimed that it stripped Americans of their Second Amendment rights without allowing them due process. They also argued that the criteria for determining mental disability within the rule were too vague to be effective, and that it reinforced the stereotype that people with mental disabilities are violent.

Proponents of the rule contended that it was a common-sense measure necessary to keep citizens safe: "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?" - Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut).

Last month the Senate used the Congressional Review Act (a law that provides Congress at 6-month window to reevaluate actions taken by an outgoing presidential administration) to strike down the rule in a 57 to 43 to vote. President Trump’s Tuesday signing affirmed that repeal.

It’s worth noting that despite the repeal, certain classes of citizens are still banned from legally owning a firearm.  The Gun Control Act of 1968 revokes the Second Amendment rights of the following:

  • Fugitives from justice,
  • Illegal aliens,
  • Unlawful users of certain drugs,
  • Those committed to a mental institution,
  • Those convicted of crimes punishable by imprisonment for more than 1 year (covers most felonies), and
  • Those convicted of domestic violence crimes.

Happy learning!