US President Donald Trump has approved a bill that removes legal restrictions for people with severe mental illness to purchase firearms.
Trump quietly signed the legislation on Tuesday, days after it was approved by the Senate in a 57-43 vote.
The signing of the law was announced at the bottom of a White House press email about the president’s approval of a slew of new bills. No journalists were invited to the Oval Office for the occasion.
The law allows over 750,000 people, who are considered too mentally ill or otherwise unable to manage their own disability benefits, to freely purchase guns, rolling back limitations put in place by former president Barack Obama.
The Obama administration had required the Social Security Administration to report people in advanced stages of mental illnesses to the national background check system consulted by gun stores before selling someone a gun.
Obama’s regulations were finalized by the Social Security Administration last December.
The rollback fulfills one of Trump’s campaign promises on loosening gun control.
When Obama announced his intention to implement his regulations prior to his State of the Union address last year, Trump said he would "un-sign that so fast" once he took office.
The original legislation prompted criticism from gun advocates, who said it violated the Second Amendment rights of the American people.
The National Rifle Association (NRA) welcomed the rollback upon the Senate’s approval, saying not all mentally ill people were violent.
Chris Cox, NRA-ILA executive director, said that it “marks a new era for law-abiding gun owners, as we now have a president who respects and supports our arms.”
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) had backed the legislation.
“We oppose this rule because it advances and reinforces the harmful stereotype that people with mental disabilities, a vast and diverse group of citizens, are violent,” ACLU said earlier this month.
Gun control advocates, however, supported Obama’s measures, arguing that people with severe mental illness can harm themselves and others if given a gun.
John Feinblatt, president of Everytown For Gun Safety, said he expected more gun control rollbacks under the new administration.
Calling the latest move “just the first item on the gun lobby's wish list,” Feinblatt said the NRA was “pushing more guns, for more people, in more places.”