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tv   Gun Background Checks  CSPAN  February 15, 2017 4:32am-5:31am EST

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senator from iowa. the senate will be in order. mr. grassley: before i speak on the issue before the senate now, i would ask unanimous consent that floor privileges be granted this congress for darren tko*d, detailee from the -- dod d
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detailee from the secret service and the detailee from the department of justice. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. grassley: today i come to the floor to address my colleagues about the bipartisan resolution of disapproval that i introduced on january 30, along with senator crapo, and 24 other cosponsors. this resolution now has 32 cosponsors and this resolution of disapproval is absolutely necessary. the resolution is a procedure, as we know, under the congressional review act for repealing executive branch regulations. the regulation at issue in this disapproval resolution was issued by the social security
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administration under president obama. this regulation unfairly stigmatizes people with disabilities. if the regulation is not repealed, it will allow the agency to very unfairly deprive social security recipients of their second-amendment rights. the regulation would result in disability recipients being reported to the national instant criminal background check system as ineligible to own a firearm, and thus, have their second-amendment rights violated. now, this is essentially a national ban -- gun ban list.
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the agency accomplishes this by doing two things -- determining if a person has a disorder on a vague quote, unquote, mental disorder list, and, two, appointing a representative payee to manage benefit paymen payments. this process has been in place for years to merely assign a representative payee. that's merely someone to help a recipient with their finances who was authorized to deal with the bureaucracy on the behalf of that social security recipient. now it is being used to report beneficiaries to a list so that they cannot buy or own a gun. and, of course, once on that
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list, individuals are prohibit prohibited, as i have already inferred, from purchasing, owning, and possessing first time, thus, violating second amendment rights. the regulation is flawed beyond any kind of repair. it results in reporting people to the gun-ban list that should not be on that list at all. it tkpr deprives those peep -- it deprives those people for their constitutional rights, and in a very important way, violating their constitutional rights without even due process. under current federal law, one must first be deemed mentally defective before being reported to the gun ban list, however,
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the mental disorder list in this regulation is filled with vague characteristics that do not fit into the federal quote, unquote medically defective standard. the disorder list is inconsistent with the federal mentally defective standard. more importantly, the list was never designed to regulate first time. as such, -- firearms. as such, it is improper to use it for that purpose. many of the disorders on the list are unrelated to gun safety. for example, the disorders list includes eating disorders, disorders that merely impact sleep or cause restlessness, and
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even disorders that could cause quote, unquote, feelings of inadequacy. because the second amendment is a fundamental right, the government must have a very compelling reason to regulate, and the regulation must be very narrowly tailored. it's unfairly steug -- it unfairly stigmatizes people then with disabilities. the government is essentially saying that a person with a disability, such as an eating disorder, is more likely to be violent anded should no longer -- and should no longer be allowed to own a gun. there is no evidence to support that general idea, and consequently, people being denied constitutional rights without due process. and if a specific individual is
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likely to be violent due to the nature of their mental illness, then the government should have to prove it. pretty basic constitutional law. the government should have to prove if you're denied a constitutional right. the national council on disabilities -- and that happens to be a nonpartisan and independent federal agency -- has said this, quote, the rule stigmatizes a group of people who are not likely to perpetuate the kind of violence the rule hopes to address. furthermore, it deprives a much broader class of individuals of a constitutional right that was intended by federal law. end of quote. in addition, the american civil liberties union has said, and i quote, we oppose this rule
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because it advances and reinforces the harmful stereotype that people with mental disabilities, a vast and diverse group of citizens, are violent. there is no data to support a connection between the need for a representative payee and a propensity towards gun violence. under of quote by the american civil liberties union. the consortium for citizens with disabilities -- and that's a coalition of 100 national disability groups -- that consortium shares the same concerns about regulation, and i quote from them -- the current public dialogue is replete with inaccurate stereotyping of people with mental disabilities
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as violent and danger, and there is a real concern that the kind of policy change encompassed by this rule will have unfounded assumptions. in other words, unfounded assumptions about who might be disabled or not. mr. president, i ask that these letters be entered into the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. grassley: some of the supporters of the new gun ban have brought forth arguments to try and discredit the other side. they have said that repealing the agency rule will allow the mentally ill to acquire first time. let me tell you why that is not true. under this regulation the social
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security administration never ever determines a person to be mentally ill before reporting them to this gun-ban list. it does not provide due process before reporting them to the list. once the agency places a person on this disorder list, it then moves to assign a representative payee. but that is a very flawed process as well. the former social security administration inspector general said the following last year in testimony before a committee about assigning a representative payee -- a very short quote from the inspector general. it is not a scientific decision.
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it is a personal opinion. end of quote. now, it's quite obvious, under our constitution of due process, that the personal opinion of a bureaucrat cannot be the basis for taking away a person's second-amendment rights. further, a june 2015 internal social security report found significant shortcomings tph-p the representative -- in the representative payee process, name will that, and i quote from the social security report. the social security capability determinations were undeveloped, undocumented, and insufficient *r sufficiently -- and insufficiently documented. end of quote. a very legitimate question can
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be raised. how can any of us be comfortable allowing our fellow citizens to be subjected to such a process -- a process that leads to the violation of constitutional rights? the regulation does not then require a formal hearing at any point. federal law, and other regulations, require that a formal hearing take place. 18usc-4 requires adjudication before depriving someone of the right to own a firearm due to mental illness. there can be no adjudication if there is no hearing. a 1986 federal register notice
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said, quote, the legislative history of the gun-control act makes it clear that a formal adjudication is necessary before firearms disabilities are incurred. end quote the obama administration knew that fundamental rights required constitutional due process. at the bare minimum, that requires a hearing. yet in this rule no hearing is being afforded to that individual that will eventually have their constitutional rights abrogated. and of course that out to be considered not only a travesty but a travesty on the constitution as well. the constitutional due process is entirely nonexistent because there is absolutely no
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opportunity for an individual to challenge the proceedings against them. the american civil liberties union has echoed the same concerns, and i quote from the aclu. the rule includes no meaningful due process protections prior to the social security administration's transmittal of the names to the national instant criminal background check system database. end of quote from the aclu. the second amendment is very much being tossed aside without a formal dispute process to challenge the actions before a constitutional right is abridg abridged. on these facts alone, the regulations should be repealed, but there's yet more.
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the regulation fails to establish that a person is a danger to themselves or a danger to others before taking away the constitutional rights that the second amendment allows. if a right -- if a rule premised on safety is to have any credibility, one would obviously think that the government needs to prove a person is dangerous, but this rule fails in that regard because it does not require the agency to find a person is in fact dangerous. the second amendment is a fundamental right requiring the government to carry the burden showing a person has a dangerous mental illness. this regulation obviously and
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simply does not achieve that requirement. to be clear, however, if this regulation is repealed, federal gun prohibitions will still exist. individuals who have been determined to be a danger to themselves or a danger to others will still be prohibited from purchasing firearms. also individuals who are found to have a dangerous mental illness will be prohibited from purchasing a firearm. also a person convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence will still be prohibited from purchasing and owning and possessing a firearm. the same for those involuntarily committed to a mental institution. so, mr. president, as government
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expands, liberty contracts, and it follows that with the expansion of government, power is centralized here in this island surrounded by reality that we call washington, d.c. rather than throughout the american people. and often with that centralization of power the centralization of power that you see in this regulation by the social security administration, fairness does not necessarily follow. this obama era regulation is a perfect example of government wielding too much power. the power to deny people due process, the power to deny people their constitutional rights under the second
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amendment. the process i described here is extremely problematic and it calls for doing away with this rule by passing this resolution of disapproval. it is not clear that any of these disorders a person is labeled with has anything whatsoever to do with the person's ability to responsibly own a firearm. and there is insufficient due process to ensure that a person actually has a given disorder that would interfere with their safe use of a firearm. notably, even a representative payee has been assigned -- notably, even if a representative payee has been assigned, the individual still maintains the capacity to
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contract. thus, the government is subject to a very low threshold to report names to the gun list and no burden of proof being necessary. by contrast, under this regulation, those who are reported to the list must prove the negative. they've got to positive that the government's wrong. they must prove in a sense approving the government's wrong, they must prove that they are not a danger in order to get their name off of that gun ban list. for the government to shift the burden to the citizens whose rights it is depriving is clearly unfair. it's not only unfair, it's unconstitutional. the failure to determine a person mentally ill or that person being a danger to self or
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to others is a material defect to this regulation. and so is the failure to afford constitutional due process. there is no reasonable basis under this regulation to justify abridging that very important, fundamental constitutional right. and that is why this regulation must be repealed through the passage of this resolution of disapproval. i yield the floor. can you wait a minute. i ask, mr. president, unanimous consent that the senate recess from 12:30 to 2:15 today. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. hatch: mr. president? the presiding officer: without objection. the senator from utah. mr. hatch: mr. president, the senate is considering h.j. res. 40, disapproval of misguided
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social security administration regulation. that infringes on many americans' second amendment rights. as a cosponsor of the senate companion to this resolution which was filed by chairman grassley, i would like to add my voice to that of the many advocates including the national disabilities rights and network and groups like the national rifle association who worked to protect the rights of law-abiding gun owners who have expressed support for this important legislation. i would also like to express my appreciation to chairman grassley and others for their leadership on this issue. this ill-advised regulation not only stigmatizes individuals with disabilities, it also violates the second amendment and due process rights of many americans and it should be repealed. as a long time supporter of americans' constitutional right to keep and bear arms, i was deeply troubled by this regulation which allows the social security administration to report individuals they
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considered in the words used in the regulation to be -- quote -- mentally defectives -- unquote -- to the national instant criminal background system or nics if they have -- quote -- mental impairments -- unquote -- receive disability benefits and receive them through a representative payee. when someone receives benefits through s.s.a.'s representative payee program, s.s.a. field office employees have deemed them unable to manage their finances. however, s.s.a.'s representative payee program itself is by many accounts infectively administered and you don't have to take my word for it. as recently as 2013, the government accountability office identified that s.s.a. -- quote -- struggles to effectively administer its payee program.
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unquote. there are unexplained and large discrepancies across various regions of the country that s.s.a. serves in numbers of beneficiaries who are assigned by s.s.a. field offices to be in the payee program. yet despite these known gaps and discrepancies, s.s.a. apparently thought that this system was sufficient to determine whether some beneficiaries should be afforded a constitutional right. well, that's -- let's be clear. under s.s.a.'s rule, individuals who were not found by s.s.a. employees or any other competent authority to be a danger to themselves or others but rather simply need help managing their finances will be prohibited from legally purchasing a firearm. while we all want to make sure that the nics system works effectively to prevent violent criminals and those who actually
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do pose a threat from purchasing firearms, this regulation is exceedingly overbroad. moreover, it is not at all clear to me that s.s.a. employees in field offices should be put in charge of deciding who can legally purchase a firearm. of course the bureaucracies in s.s.a. who were prodded by the obama administration to write the rule say that they will create some sort of internal structure to allow beneficiaries to appeal the decisions of s.s.a. employees. of course that means that s.s.a. would need to construct a new costly adjudication system to review decisions that its employees are not well equipped to make in the first place. this is particularly strange given that it is standard practice at s.s.a. to decry the agency's funding levels while also claiming that it is already
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unable to adequately serve its beneficiaries due to budgetary shortfalls. all of this does not add up. the s.s.a. is at all not equipped for this decision making. moreover the standards that would apply under the regulation for s.s.a. to report a beneficiary to the nics represent a luch lower bar than the one anticipated in the applicable federal statutes to determine the eligibility to purchase a firearm. that being the case, we need to pass chairman grassley's resolution of disapproval which has already been approved by the house of representatives with bipartisan support. i encourage my colleagues to join me in voting in favor of this resolution and i want to thank my friend from oregon for allowing me to go forward on this short senate remarks. i yield the floor. mr. wyden: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. wyden: mr. president, i listened carefully to my
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colleagues on the other side, and i want to make sure people really understand what this debate is all about. this debate is about background checks. it's about mental health. it is not about taking away constitutional rights. and i'm struck, mr. president, and i hope the distinguished president of the senate has taken part in a lot of these debates as well, is whenever there is a discussion about guns in the united states senate, senators get up and says we shouldn't be debating guns. we ought to be debating mental health. that's what we're talking about here today. mental health and colleagues were talking about background checks.
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the fact of the matter is you can go into town hall meetings in any part of america and you will hear extraordinary support for the whole idea of background checks. background checks as i indicated is right at the heart of this morning's debate. supporting background checks is not some extreme, far out position to hold. in fact, opposing background checks is the view that's way out of the mainstream of american political thought. a recent poll found that 92% of gun owners supported expanded background checks. let me just repeat that. 92% of gun owners, gun owners in america, support expanded
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background checks. as the courts continue to interpret the language of the second amendment, one matter has been made clear. background checks are a constitutional part of the exercise of those rights. so what i'm going to do is describe what this is all about, but i want to -- as we get going -- make sure that people understand that fundamentally this is about background checks, it's about mental health. it is not about taking away somebody's constitutional rights. so here's how the proposal under discussion works. if there is an individual with a severe mental impairment that means that another person,
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perhaps a family member, is in charge of their social security benefits, then the background check is to be informed by social security that the person with a severe mental impairment is ineligible to buy a gun. now, the fact is you can always talk about tailoring the rule in a slightly, you know, different way. it's critically important that individuals who wind up in the background check system are not treated unfairly. but the fact is anyone who thinks that they have been unfairly affected by this proposal can appeal and they are
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most likely going to win as long as they are not a danger to themselves or anyone else. and if the social security administration says no, that person has the power to take their case to court. so what we're talking about here is, in my view, not about democrats, republicans, -bt liberals and -- republicans, liberals, and conservative, we are talking about plain old unvarnished common sense. we want to stop shootings by those who are in danger of hurting themselves or other persons. the rule came out last year, but it goes back to the shootings at virginia tech and sandy hook. what the previous administration
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sought to do was to find some commonsense gun safety steps that could be taken under laws on the books. i want to emphasize this as we well, mr. president. because whenever we talk about guns, as senators always say, let's use the laws on the books. we don't need to chase new laws and the like. so the administration sought to use the laws on the books -- the previous administration -- to prevent the horrendous acts of violence that have so scared our country in recent years. and i know the distinguished president of the senate knows something about that from his own state. so i hope my colleagues will oppose the resolution.
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i think we're all aware here in the senate that whenever you have a -- an issue that even touches on guns, everybody goes into their corners. they go into their respected, you know, corners. my own view is, and i represent a state with a great many gun owners. i've had more than 750 town hall meetings at home. a lot of them involved debates about guns and overwhelmingly in a state like mine where there are a lot of gun owners, gun owners support make sure -- making sure there are background checks, they want to address this as a mental health issue,
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and gun owners overwhelmingly say that they've just had it with congress doing absolutely nothing when it comes to practical, commonsense gun measures like background checks. they just look at what goes on in washington, d.c., and i've had so many, you know, gun owners. this comes up, not just at town meetings, but we have an icon n our state, fred meyer, a store -- i think i've had a chicken in every fred meyer in the state of oregon -- people come up and talk about issues like this in a fred meyer. and they say, why in the sporld can't there be -- in the world can't there be democrats and
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republicans who just can't come together and do something to make our country a little bit safer. that's what this is all about, mr. president. i'm not here to say that this mesh is a panacea, that somehow this is a magical aoe hr*eubgser -- elixer that will reduce gun violence in america. that wouldn't be right and certainly not how i see these, you know, debates. i see this as addressing a commonsense, practical measure relating background checks and mental health. i listened to my colleagues -- my friend from the finance committee, senator grassley, and if members of the senate feel so strongly that this particular
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rule needs addressing, then there ought to be a debate. the senate, democrats and republicans, get together, figure out how to improve the rule, but what's important is that's not going to be possible if this resolution passes. if this rule is struck down under the congressional review act, it wouldn't just scrap this particular background check, it would salt the earth. it would prevent this issue from being addressed for quite a number of years. i'm going to close, mr. president, by talking a bit personally for a minute about why i feel so strongly about this. my late brother, jeff, who passed at 51, suffered from schizophrenia, a serious mental
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impairment. he started to withdraw in his teens, his condition just got worse over the next few years. and we were close. he was just a couple of years younger than me. i watched a continuing odyssey that jeff went through of various mental health tpa silts, -- facilities, run-ins with the law on the street. and i'll say to the president of the senate, that not a day went by in the wyden household when we weren't worried that jeff was going to hurt himself or somebody else. and that was the reality for the
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wyden family and that is a fear that i know is seen in households all across the country day in and day out. my brother received benefits from public programs while he struggled with a mental impairment. my dad wrote a book about it because we were so hopeful at one time. he wrote a book called "conque "conquering schizophrenia." he thought there was a breakthrough drug known as alanz api ne. but we always knew it would be a big mistake if jeff wyden could buy a gun, he would have been a
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danger to himself, he would have been a danger to others, and i don't think americans should have to carry that burden and experience that kind of worry that comes along with the danger that we felt week after week for years in the wyden household and that i know other families across the country feel as well. the president of the senate wasn't in the chair when this began, and i started off by way of saying, you know, to me this is about background checks, it's about mental health. it's not about taking away people's constitutional rights. but i can understand why other people would have a difference of opinion. that's what the senate is about. that's what the senate is
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supposed to do, debate these issues. if somebody says, well, there's a better way to do this, to improve it, count me in. count me in to talk with colleagues, the president of the senate, and others about it. but you oppose this resolution today and you close off that door, you preempt that possibility because of the way the congressional review act actually works. so i urge my colleagues to oppose this. this is what the senate says it wants to do when we talk about guns. i wish i had a nickel, in fact, mr. president, every time the senate talks about guns, i wish i had a nickel for each time a senator gets up and says: we shouldn't be working on guns, we ought to be working on mental health. that's what this is about, mental health and background
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checks. i urge my colleagues to oppose the resolution, and i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. murphy: thank you, mr. president. i've heard my republican friends tell those of us who want the laws of this country changed to protect our constituents against gun violence, that what we should focus on is enforcing the existing law. that we don't need any new laws, all we need to do is focus on enforcing the existing law. senator wyden said he wish he had a dime he has been told that our focus should be on background checks, i wish i had a dime every time republicans told us to focus on the existing law. yet, i would also be a rich man every time republicans come down to the floor and try to undermine the existing law, try
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to rewrite the existing law to make it harder in order to enforce it. the appropriations act is, on an annual basis loaded up with riders that ham spring enforcement agents -- ha hamstringed with enforcement agencies. the c.r.a. we have before us today will make it harder for the federal government to do what we have told them to do for decades, which is to put dangerous people and people who are seriously mentally ill on the list of those that are prohibited from buying guns. that's the existing law. the existing law says that if you are convicted of a serious crime or you have a serious mental illness and you have gone through a process by which a determination has been made by a government agency as such, that you should not be able to buy a weapon. why do we have that law on the
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books? why have we come together as republicans and democrats to say that people with serious mental illness or people who have been adjudicated of violent crimes shouldn't be able to have weapons? the evidence tells us over and over again that if you -- that if you have committed a violent crime, you will commit another one. as we have seen these mass shooters walk into places like sandy hook elementary school or a movie theater in colorado or a classroom in blacksburg, we know that people with serious mental illness this country can go buy a very powerful weapon and do great damage with it. now, that does not mean that there is an inherent connection between mental illness and violence.
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in fact, we know the opposite to be true. if you're mentally ill, you're probably more likely to be the victim of violence than you are to be the perpetrator of it. but we do know that in this country, given the fact that weapons are so easy to come by, people with mental illness, serious mental illness who have an intersection with visions of violence often do great harm. so we made a decision, a collective decision as republicans and democrats that if you have a serious mental illness, you probably shouldn't be able to go and buy an assault weapon. that's what the law says. section 101 of the nics improvement act is entitled "enhancement of requirement that federal departments and agencies provide relevant information to the national instant criminal background check system." that is a piece of legislation that both republicans and democrats supported, and it commands that federal agencies provide relevant information to
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the criminal background check system. what's relevant information? well, a.t.f. defines those that should not be able to buy a gun as one who lacks the mental capacity to manage his own affairs. so there's the existing statute. the existing statute says relative agencies should forward information to the criminal background check system on individuals who are prohibited from owning guns and that is defined in part as individuals who lack the mental capacity to manage his or her own affairs. and that is exactly what the regulation that was proffered by the obama administration the end of next year does. it says that individuals who have filed a claim for disability, who meet the requirements of one of social security's mental disorders listing of impairments, have been found to be so severely impaired that they are unable to work, and they have been found
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with due process of being incapable to manage their own benefits and have had a representative appointed to them to manage their disability benefits, that those individuals meet the definition of someone who lacks the mental capacity to manage their own affairs. and so if you are supporting the c.r.a. today, then you are undermining the ability of law enforcement to do their job, to enforce the law as congress has passed. and so spare me this rhetoric about passing no new laws, we should just focus on enforcement. once again with this c.r.a. you are undermining the ability of the federal government and of law enforcement to enforce the law. and let's be clear about what the danger is here. it is correct to state that there is no inherent connection
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between being mentally ill and being dangerous, but the risk here is not just that an individual is going to buy a gun and use it themselves. the risk is that someone who can't literally deposit their own paycheck probably can't or likely can't responsibly own and protect a gun. i could sit here for the rest of the day and recite to you the number of times that a gun that was owned by one individual got used in an accidental shooting, got taken illegally, stolen from their premises and used in a crime. the danger of an individual who has severe mental incapacity is not just that they are going to take that weapon and fire it but that they're not going to own, keep and protect it responsibly. if you can't manage your own
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financial affairs, how can we expect you are going to be a responsible steward of a dangerous, lethal firearm. and we're talking about a very limited group of individuals here who, by the way, under the regulation, have due process to contest the determination. first of all, they have an the to contest -- an ability to contest the decision by social security that they shouldn't be able to manage their own financial affairs, and then the regulation secondarily gives them the ability to specifically contest their limitation on gun ownership. so there is full ability for the individual or for the family to contest this limitation, which makes it completely constitutional, this nonsense that this is a restriction of a constitutional right, the heller decision which does hold that an individual has the right to gun
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ownership also makes it explicit in justice scalia's opinion that there are limitations on that right, and that the scalia decision itself lists as one of those conditions the restriction of gun ownership by people who are seriously mentally ill. so the law is clear that federal agencies are required to upload information on to nics of those individuals who cannot manage their own financial affairs because of mental illness. the supreme court is clear that this is entirely constitutional. so why are we doing this? why are we having a debate about rolling back the criminal background check system when 90% of americans support it? i'm just going to tell you no matter what state you live in, you go sit down with your
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constituents and you tell them that you voted to allow people who are seriously mentally ill to be able to buy guns, you're not going to get a lot of takers. it's not because people don't have compassion for people with mental illness. i worked for the last two years to pass the most substantial mental health reform act that this body has seen in a decade. i've spent as much or more time than anybody in this chamber advocating for the rights of people with mental illness and for their treatment, but i also understand that when people are so mentally ill that they can't manage their own financial affairs, they probably shouldn't buy a gun. that's a small class of people. and, mr. president, what makes me so angry about this is that i have no idea how to go back to the people that i represent in connecticut and tell them that in four years since the massacre
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in a small town elementary school, that not only has congress passed no law, made no change in statute to try to keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of would-be shooters but that today we are doing exactly the opposite, that the response to the epidemic of mass shootings in this country is to make it easier for people with serious mental illness to get guns, how do i explain that to people in connecticut? how do the folks representing areas where shootings are a regular occurrence explain that congress has done nothing to address mass shootings, to address the epidemic rates of gun violence in our cities, and yet we think it's so important
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to undermine criminal background check system, not strengthen it, undermine it in the first month of this new administration, this new congress we're rushing through this repeal of a commonsense regulation. that is deeply offensive to the majority of americans who think that we should be strengthening the criminal background check system, not undermining it. 90% of americans think we should have universal background checks. not only are we not listening to them, we are undermining the criminal background check system today. i get that the gun lobby is pretty powerful in this place. i get that they have stood in the way of changes in our criminal background check system that are supported by 90% of americans. but even i wasn't cynical enough to think that they had so much power that they could get congress to roll back, to
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undermine the criminal background check system in the wake of this continued horrific level of gun violence all across the country. senator wyden is right. the danger in this is not just that it has the immediate impact of undermining the criminal background check system but that it potentially blocks our ability to get this right in the future. we don't know what the precedent for c.r.a.'s is because we haven't done them before. what we know is it says you can't pass any regulation that is substantially similar to the regulation that you legislated on. what does that mean in the context of keeping people with serious mental illness off -- on the criminal background check system? does that mean that we can't ever legislate or regulate on
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the narrow issue of individuals who have had their right of financial affairs restricted through social security or is that a broader prohibition that limits the administration's ability to regulate on strengthening of the criminal background check system in a much more comprehensive way? you're playing with fire here because this is a precedent that we knew nothing about. you're playing with fire because you're potentially limiting the ability to ever get this issue right in the future when 90% of americans want us to work together on it. so i understand that this issue is a sensitive one. having spent my entire career working hand in hand with committed advocates for people with mental illness, i understand the danger of conflating mental illness with
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violence. but this is a narrow category of individuals who by definition fit the parameters in existing law for those that are supposed to be on the nics system. and for all the things that we disagree about on gun policy -- i don't suspect we're going to get a meeting of the minds this congress whether all gun sales should be subject to background checks. i don't suspect we'll figure out a way of working together to restrict high capacity assault weapons. i thought at least on keeping the background system that we have and the existing law, the existing law says that individuals who lack the mental capacity to manage their own affairs should be included on the list of those that are prohibited from buying weapons. and today we are undermining that existing law. we are undermining the enforcement of current statute,
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something that republicans have said over and over and over again they are not interested in doing. i would strongly urge my colleagues to vote against this measure. i thank the floor for the
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