Maloney and Pascrell Announce New Mental Health Background Check Bill

Feb 27, 2018
Press Release
Members will introduce bill to restore Obama Administration rule to help keep guns out of the hands of those with severe mental illness

WASHINGTON, DC – Representatives Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) and Bill Pascrell (NJ-9) announced today that they will introduce legislation to reinstate the Obama-era mental health background check for gun purchases. President Trump repealed this rule which would keep individuals with severe mental illnesses from purchasing firearms.

This Obama-era regulation was enacted after the massacre at Sandy Hook and required the Social Security Administration to add people who are unable to handle their own financial affairs to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), the system used to run background checks for gun purchases.

“Yesterday, the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School returned to school for the first time since the shooting, but they did not go quietly and they have made clear they will not accept the status quo – and neither will I,” said Rep. Maloney. “One step we can take is to make sure deadly firearms don’t end up in the hands of those with severe mental illness. Honestly, we shouldn’t even need to introduce this bill – it was taken care of in 2016. But, the Republican Majority and President Trump repealed the process before it could ever be fully implemented. So, here we are, redoubling our efforts to keep guns out of the hands of individuals who have no business owning them. I challenge my Republican colleagues to explain why they can’t support this bill.

“Congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump exacerbated the problems in the system by rolling back rules to keep individuals with severe mental illnesses from purchasing firearms,” said Rep. Pascrell. “To be clear, Republicans are being hypocrites. Their talk of mental health in this debate is clearly not on the level.”


Under the Maloney-Pascrell bill, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will be required to report the names of individuals to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) who have a documented mental health issue, receive disability benefits, and are unable to manage those benefits themselves because of severe mental impairment. The Maloney-Pascrell bill will reinstate the Obama-era regulation Trump repealed.

In doing so, the SSA will be acting in accordance to the spirit of the law outlined in the Brady Act and acting as the Department of Veterans Affairs has since 1998.

Any individual whose name is entered in the database will receive both written and oral notice and be notified of their right to request relief.

An individual can have his/her name removed from the list if the individual is classified as capable of managing his/her own financial affairs, can prove that he/she is not likely to act in a way that would endanger the public and that providing relief does not go against the public interest, or it is found that the SSA sent the records in error. 

Any individual whose request for relief is denied by the SSA can file a petition seeking judicial review in US District Court.