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Am I Able to Own a Gun While on Disability?

The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution protects your right to bear arms. It puts significant limits on the government’s authority to pass firearm laws. Gun ownership is important for many people in Arizona. According to a report from CBS News, 46.3 percent of adults in Arizona live in a home with a gun. It is not uncommon for some firearm enthusiasts to own multiple guns, potentially even a collection.

 

This raises an important question: Can I still own a firearm while receiving Social Security disability benefits? The answer is ‘yes’—while there was a regulation proposed to restrict firearm rights for certain people receiving benefits on the basis of a mental health disorder, that rule never took effect. In this article, our Arizona Social Security disability lawyers provide an overview of disability benefits and gun ownership rights. 

You Can Still Lawfully Own a Firearm While Collecting Social Security Disability Benefits

First and foremost, it is important to clarify the rules as they currently exist under state and federal law. As of October of 2021, there is no Social Security disability regulation in place that restricts your right to own a firearm. In other words, applying for and receiving Social Security disability benefits has no direct impact on your Second Amendment rights in Arizona. 

If you had the right to own a specific type of gun before you applied for SSDI or SSI benefits, you still have the right to possess that weapon. Nothing changes. Likewise, if you did not have a right to own a specific weapon—perhaps because of a previous felony conviction—you still do not have the legal rights to possess that weapon after getting approved for SSDI or SSI benefits. 

SSA Issued a Proposed Firearm-Related Rule—But it Never Took Effect

The reason why there is a lot of confusion regarding gun rights and Social Security disability benefits is that the federal government did try to make changes to the system a few years ago. In 2016, the Social Security Administration (SSA) proposed a new rule related to firearm ownership and disability benefits on the basis of mental incapacity. 

 

The SSA’s Final Rule, which was released to the public in December of 2016, would have required SSA to provide the names of mentally disabled beneficiaries to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. An applicant could have then, potentially, been denied a firearm (or had an existing license revoked) on the grounds that they are receiving SSDI benefits or SSI benefits for mental health disability.

 

To be clear, this regulation never took effect. The Final Rule was issued by the SSA in the waning days of the Obama Administration. In early 2017, action was taken both in the House of Representatives and by the Trump Administration to get rid of this regulation. As a result, we are still operating under the old system—no actual changes regarding gun rights and Social Security disability benefits were ever made.

 

There are still some outstanding legal questions about the federal government’s power on this matter. Barring a Supreme Court decision to the contrary, the Social Security Administration and the executive branch, possibly the Biden Administration, could take action to restrict the Second Amendment rights of people who are receiving Social Security disability benefits for a mental health impairment.  

 

The Bottom Line: You are able to own a gun while on Social Security disability. There is no rule or procedure in place that allows the SSA to restrict your gun rights. In fact, the SSA does not even share the fact that you were approved for SSDI benefits or SSI benefits with the federal agencies responsible for gun issues. There was a recent regulation proposed that would have potentially stopped certain SSD beneficiaries who have mental impairments from buying/possessing firearms—but that regulation was blocked by congress and never took effect. 

Get Help From a Top-Rated Arizona Disability Lawyer Today

At Pekas Smith: Arizona Disability Attorneys, we are driven to help people obtain and maintain their Social Security disability benefits, including SSDI and SSI. You deserve personalized, results-focused legal advice. If you need help with a Social Security or Social Security appeal, we are here as a resource. Give us a call now or get in touch with us using our online contact form for your free, confidential consultation. With a law office in Phoenix, we provide Social Security disability representation throughout Arizona, including in Flagstaff, Mesa, Scottsdale, Sedona, and Tempe.

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