FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. -- Both of Connecticut's Democratic senators voted against a measure passed in the U.S. Senate Wednesday that undo a rule preventing people with mental disabilities from purchasing guns.
The bill nullify's a rule that allows the Social Security Administration to send information on individuals with mental disabilities who receive disability payments to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Proponents of the rule say that it prevents people with mental illnesses from being able to purchase or possess firearms. Opponents say it strips citizens of their Second Amendment rights.
The rule was implemented by President Barack Obama, but was overturned Wednesday by a 57-43 vote. It was struck down using the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to roll back any rule within 60 days of its implementation with a majority vote.
U.S. Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal had both urged Senate Republicans to not support the bill before the vote was held.
“Republicans consistently say we don’t need new gun laws, we just need better enforcement of the laws already on the books. But today, they voted to undermine enforcement of existing law that provides complete information for the background check system,” Murphy said after the vote.
“Ninety percent of Americans support closing loopholes to make the background checks system better, but Congress just made it worse. Once again, we’ve failed to meet our basic duty to keep our kids, moms, dads, and neighbors safe.”
“Repealing this regulation could lead to great harm, exacerbating the loopholes and failings in the background check system that erode public safety,” Blumenthal said in a speech on the Senate Floor Tuesday.
“It does nothing to answer my constituents who asked me time and time again why Congress does nothing to confront the epidemic of gun violence in this country. It would create an irresponsible, irreversible precedent. But more important than the precedent is the consequence in real lives of the death and injury that could result.”
Gov. Dannel Malloy and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman both spoke out against the decision to overturn the rule.
"The hypocrisy of the NRA and Republicans is shocking – both have called for better tools to identify potentially dangerous persons who are severely mentally ill as a way to reduce gun violence, and this measure did just that. However, whenever the opportunity arose to lead, they have fallen woefully short," Malloy said. "The overwhelming majority of Americans – including NRA members – want commonsense gun violence prevention measures to ensure that those who should not have access to weapons cannot purchase them and do harm to themselves or others. President Obama’s action strengthened protections while protecting rights of qualified citizens to purchase firearms.”
“Communities across the nation have mourned terrible acts of violence and the victims who were gunned down in schools, nightclubs, movie theaters, and places of worship," said Wyman. "We know that keeping firearms out of the wrong hands is key to public safety. Reversing course on this rule is the wrong path. It jeopardizes the progress we’ve made to promote public safety without compromising the rights of law-abiding gun owners.”