CNN Host Challenges GOP Senator Over Republican Move To Allow People With Severe Mental Illness To Buy Guns
Alisyn Camerota: “How Does That Make Sense?”
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From the February 3 edition of CNN’s New Day:
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ALISYN CAMEROTA (HOST): What's going on with gun control in the House. There's just been this measure to lift a gun control restriction that will now allow people with severe mental illness to get their hands on guns. How does that make sense?
SEN. JOHN BARRASSO (R-WY): I don't look at it this way. I'm a strong proponent of our Second Amendment rights. You know, it's interesting. This was a rule that President Obama came out with in December, long after he was a lame duck president. If this is something he was so committed to, you would have thought sometime in the previous eight years he might have come out with such a regulation. He just came out with it in December --
CAMEROTA: Forget the timing. But what about the substance of it? I mean why allow -- if there's one point of agreement, bipartisan point of agreement that everyone has said from gun enthusiasts to gun control activists, it's keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill. This sounds like it would make it easier for them to get their hands on guns.
BARRASSO: Well I don't view it that way at all. I look at this from the stand point, this is going against Social Security, and people who get Social Security checks, people who make financial decisions and it's putting the Social Security Administration in a point where they would then be determining who is reported in ways in terms of our Second Amendment rights.
CAMEROTA: As I understand it, it involves 75,000 people with mental disorders so severe that they cannot work and that they have someone else manage their Social Security benefits. How does it make sense to let them have guns?
BARRASSO: Well, this is a new change by President Obama, a midnight regulation on his way out the door. It should be subject to a full debate, discussion, and the House has voted on it yesterday and voted to repeal that rule.
CAMEROTA: If someone has a mental illness so severe that they cannot work, should they be able to have a gun?
BARRASSO: The question is somebody able to have a gun at the same time they're receiving Social Security disability benefits. You can take a look at how those decisions are being made. So up until last month, for --
CAMEROTA: Disability for a mental illness.
BARRASSO: -- Seven, eight years of President Obama's term, it was fine. And to come out with a midnight regulation at this point that maybe even members of his own party don't support, seems like just another thing that President Obama has done while leaving the White House to try to gum up the works as he leaves.
CAMEROTA: Senator, are you comfortable with somebody having a mental disability and having a gun?
BARRASSO: You can take a look at what the Constitution says which is what I do as a physician who spent lots of time working with patients with all different backgrounds. They're clearly people who have been labeled one way or another, and I'm not comfortable with this late midnight recommendation by the president as he's leaving office.