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Editorial: Senate, House hand guns to seriously mentally ill

In its seemingly headlong rush to repeal any and all Obama-era policies, regardless of their potential benefit, the Republican-controlled Senate has voted to repeal legislation designed to prevent individuals with severe mental illness from obtaining firearms. You read that right; they’re against a regulation that prevents seriously mentally ill people from buying or owning firearms.

The rule the Senate trashed on a 57-43 vote (the House passed the repeal earlier) would have required the Social Security Administration to provide names of beneficiaries with severe mental impairments – those who also have a third party manage their benefits. The logic here is that a beneficiary whose mental illness is so profound that they need another person to manage their affairs should not be allowed to buy or own a gun. The rule would affect an estimated 75,000 individuals, though it’s not known how many of them have a need or desire to own a firearm. The restriction was part of President Obama’s efforts to strengthen the federal background check system.

Leave it to the National Rifle Association and Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, to obfuscate the issue by claiming it could prevent people with sleep apnea from buying and owning guns. Like people with sleep apnea alone would qualify for disability benefits, let alone require a third party to handle their affairs.

For what it’s worth now, the original legislation was an outgrowth of the Dec. 14, 2012, killings in Newton, Conn., known as the Sandy Hook Massacre. Adam Lanza, who had a variety of diagnosed mental health issues, shot his mother, 20 students, six staff members and himself to death. But the frequency with which shooters like Lanza are found to be mentally ill seems to have no impact on the NRA, Grassley or other so-called defenders of the 2nd Amendment. Perhaps the next mass killing will.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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