15 February 2017
Tester votes to let crazy people own guns
Montana’s Democratic U.S. Senator, Jon Tester, knows his constituents are crazy in love with firearms. Perhaps that’s why, with his 2018 re-election campaign on his mind, he voted today to let crazy people own guns. So did three other Democrats, and one independent, up for re-election next year: Joe Donnelly (Indiana), Heidi Heitkamp (North Dakota), Joe Manchin (West Virginia), and independent Angus King (Maine), who caucuses with the Democrats.
…an Obama-era regulation that would prevent an estimated 75,000 people with mental disorders from being able to purchase a firearm. The measure now goes to President Donald Trump, who is expected to sign it.
The regulation was crafted as part of President Barack Obama’s efforts to strengthen the federal background check system in the wake of the 2012 massacre of 20 young students and six staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Adam Lanza, a 20-year-old man with a variety of impairments, including Asperger’s syndrome and obsessive-compulsive disorder, shot and killed his mother at their home, then went to school where he killed the students, adults and himself.
The Obama administration rule required the Social Security Administration to send in the names of beneficiaries with mental impairments who also have a third party manage their benefits.
But lawmakers, with the backing of the National Rifle Association and advocacy groups for the disabled, opposed the regulation and encouraged Congress to undertake a rarely successful process designed to void regulations that Congress takes issue with.
The regulation was controversial and had strange bedfellow opponents.
But keeping firearms out of the hands of crazy people ought not be controversial. Tester’s vote may be smart politics — no Montana politician ever lost an election by pandering to the gunpowder caucus — but it’s shameful policy.