Getting Older? The Government Wants Your Guns

There came a time when my grandfather needed to surrender his pistol. He'd carried it for years, operating a service station that mostly catered to long haul truckers, but that was occasionally the target for criminals -- never successfully that I heard. It was a time of much greater violence than today, the late '70s and early '80s, as is explored in the context of NYC in this short film. This pistol was mostly to protect them at the shop, which had expensive tools as well as cash. Sometimes when he left he'd hand it off to my uncle, who once used it to repel a carload of robbers.

In time, though, he grew old. He had a series of strokes, and began to lose his mental focus. His judgment became questionable. He had always had a fearsome temper, but we began to wonder if he would restrain it as reliably as in the past. Finally, the day came when it was necessary that he stop carrying a pistol.

What happened to it? Well, for a while my grandmother kept it -- she had not had the strokes, and was still mentally in the clear. After he died, it passed to my uncle. After that, I'm not sure. Possibly he still has it. Possibly he sold it or gave it to someone. It was inherited, in other words, like any other property.
The Obama administration wants to keep people collecting Social Security benefits from owning guns if it is determined they are unable to manage their own affairs, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The push, which could potentially affect millions whose monthly disability payments are handled by others, is intended to bring the Social Security Administration in line with laws that prevent gun sales to felons, drug addicts, immigrants in the United States illegally, and others, according to the paper.

The language of federal gun laws restricts ownership to people who are unable to manage their own affairs due to “marked subnormal intelligence, or mental illness, incompetency, condition, or disease” – which could potentially affect a large group within Social Security, the LA Times reported.
So what happens if the government determines you are no longer fit to carry, or even to own, a firearm? It's not clear to me that the government is the right choice for this responsibility: in fact, no government bureaucrat would have had knowledge of my grandfather's mental acuity, and certainly not the granular knowledge that we his family had.

More to the point, though, what happens to the property if the government determines that you aren't fit to own it anymore? Transferring it from one family member to another doesn't require any government involvement. The government has no similar rights. We are talking about property that doesn't belong to them.


MikeD said...

Anytime you tell me the government wants to strip someone's civil rights from them on the basis of "mental illness" I hear echoes of the Soviet Union who would routinely declare someone "mentally ill" for opposing the dictates of the State. So I utterly reject the idea that the government is qualified or should be trusted to make these determinations.

E Hines said...

So what happens if the government determines you are no longer fit to carry, or even to own, a firearm?

They can face my unrestrained temper and μολον λαβε.

Eric Hines

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Is there some crime wave from seniors that I hadn't heard about? Isn't this a solution in search of a problem?

Anonymous said...

"Is there some crime wave from seniors that I hadn't heard about? Isn't this a solution in search of a problem?"

All I can figure is they're (claiming to be) worried about seniors losing track of their firearms, or getting them stolen by their disturbed children/grandchildren who can't obtain their own firearms due to background checks.

Anonymous said...

My understanding is that it is aimed less at senior citizens and more at younger people who are on disability, and military personnel who might have someone managing their finances for whatever reason. And I expect someone to trot out, "Well, if the senior can't manage her money, how can she keep [relative/caretaker's nephew's buddy] from getting her firearms? It's for the children."


MikeD said...

Crime wave? No. But incidents here or there, sure. We had an elderly demented man (suffering from Alzheimer's) shoot his caregiver recently here in town. The DA isn't going to charge the man with murder, since there's no point. He doesn't even know he did it anymore. But he was confused, angry, and armed. But these things are not anything more than random tragedies. And regrettable though they are, and even preventable (if family steps in) though they may be, this is not something that needs the government to step into.

One of the worst tendencies of citizens today is to mistake a preventable tragedy for something that needs to have a law passed to prevent. Little good comes of it, and a great deal of ill is sure to follow.