The Senate voted Wednesday to nullify part of a gun control bill that keeps severely mentally ill people from buying guns. It'll head now to President Donald Trump, who is likely to sign it.
The rule, which was issued by the Obama administration, required the Social Security Administration to report the names of an estimated 75,000 people who are considered too mentally ill or otherwise unable to manage their own disability benefits to the national background check system that gun stores (but often not private sellers nor gun shows) must consult before selling a gun to someone. It went into effect in January of this year, and but didn't require compliance until December.
States with the toughest gun laws
States with the toughest gun laws
National Rifle Association's (NRA) annual meetings and exhibits show in Louisville, Kentucky, May 21, 2016. (Reuters)
#24. West Virginia
Score: 18 Grade: D-
West Virginia may rank low in terms of overall gun control, but in 2015 Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblinvetoed a bill that would have allowed people to carry concealed weapons without a permit.
Score: 19.5 Grade: D-
The relatively lax firearm laws in Indiana have led some to link them to gun violence in Chicago.
#22. New Hampshire
Score: 20.5 Grade: D
New Hampshire requires handgun dealers to obtain a state license, but does not extend the rule to dealers of rifles and shotguns.
Score: 21.5 Grade: D
Nebraska differs from many states in that it gives local jurisdictions some control over firearm regulations.
Score: 22 Grade: D
Following the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007, the state took greater measures to report mental health records and prohibit sales of firearms to any person who has been "adjudicated as a mental defective."
Score: 24 Grade: D
Ohio does not prohibit the sale of assault weapons nor limit the number of firearms that may be purchased at one time.
Score: 25 Grade: D
In a major blow to gun control advocates, Republican Gov. Scott Walkerrepealedthe state's mandatory 48-hour waiting period for handgun purchases in 2015.
While Colorado requires licensed firearms dealers to process background checks, it does not impose limits on the number of firearms that may be purchased at one time.
Score: 30 Grade: C
Michigan gun control laws require firearm owners to report handgun purchases and theft of any firearm.
Score: 31 Grade: C
Oregon greatly strengthened its firearm regulations in 2015 when it enacted laws requiring background checks for all firearm purchases.
Score: 35 Grade: C
Compared to other solidly Democratic states, Pennsylvania's gun control laws are relatively lax, with no requirements for firearm owners to obtain licenses or register their weapons.
Score: 36.5 Grade: C
Although federally licensed firearms dealers must initiate background checks, Minnesota does not require private sellers to do so.
Score: 47.5 Grade: B-
Washington requires all firearm dealers to obtain a state license, but does not mandate that individuals register their weapons.
Score: 50.5 Grade: B
Delaware has relatively strict gun control measures, including mandatory background checks and purchase restrictions on domestic violence misdemeanants.
#9. Rhode Island
Score: 58.5 Grade: B+
Rhode Island may have comprehensive gun control measures overall, but it stilldoes not prohibit the transfer or possession of assault weapons.
Score: 60 Grade: B+
In addition to requiring background checks, Illinois has instituted some design safety standards for handguns.
Score: 73.5 Grade: B+
In 2014, Hawaii had the lowest number of firearm-related deaths per 100K people. Gun regulation advocates have attributed this to its tight gun control measures.
#6. New York
Score: 81 Grade: A-
New York enacted major gun control reforms in 2013, including an expansion of the assault weapons ban and requirements for ammunition dealers to conduct background checks.
Score: 81.5 Grade: A-
Following the New York reforms, Massachusetts passed a comprehensive gun control bill in 2014 that increased firearm regulations.
Score: 82 Grade: A-
Among Maryland's firearm regulations are a ban on the transfer of certain assault weapons and a mandatory seven-day waiting period prior to the physical transfer of a firearm.
#3. New Jersey
Score: 86 Grade: A-
Republican Gov. Chris Christie may have shifted to the right on the issue of gun control, but his state still has some of the tightest firearm regulations in the country.
Score: 86.5 Grade: A-
Connecticut's extensive gun control laws require firearms dealers to obtain a license and mandate background checks for all firearm sales at gun shows.
Score: 93.5 Grade: A-
California takes the top spot as the state with the strictest gun control measures. Among the regulations in place are required background checks and limitations on the number of handguns an individual can purchase each month.
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Sen. Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat who's long supported gun safety, opposed the vote. "If you can't manage your own financial affairs, how can we expect that you're going to be a responsible steward of a dangerous, lethal firearm?" Murphy asked. The bill passed 57-43, with several Democrats crossing the aisle to join Republicans.
The House voted against the rule on February 3.
Federal law already bans the sale of guns to the mentally ill, but doesn't require states to report people with records of mental illness (being committed to a mental hospital, for instance) to the background check system, so they often don't. That was a loophole that the federal mandate to the Social Security Administration could have, ideally, partially closed.
The vote has been criticized by gun control advocates who believe it's important to keep deadly weapons out of the hands of people deemed too severely mentally ill to manage their own disability benefits.
But, the rollback has supporters from several camps; both the National Rifle Association and the American Civil Liberties Union supported the disapproval, with the ACLU saying the rule assumed that all people with severe mental illnesses were violent and lumped them all together as one group rather than judging them as individuals.
Sen. Charles Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, voted to strike down the rule.
"If a specific individual is likely to be violent due to the nature of their mental illness, then the government should have to prove it."
Sen. Charles Grassley, (R) Iowa