In a meeting with constituents earlier this month in Oklahoma City, a woman asked the GOP congressman what he was doing to combat all the children who were committing gun violence because they were high on psychotropic drugs. Lankford replied that he “agree[s] with that” and then went on to blame Social Security disability fraud for the rash of gun violence around the country. “Quite frankly some of the overmedication of kids are because welfare moms want to get additional benefits,” Lankford said:
CONSTITUENT: My question is regarding the guns and is Washington at all aware of the psychotropic drugs that these children are taking? I guarantee it 100 percent that’s our big problem. [...]
LANKFORD: I agree with that. I think there’s a bunch of issues that, quite frankly, most liberals are afraid to talk about. [...] Where are we on all those psychiatric drugs? We’ve overmedicated kids. Quite frankly some of the overmedication of kids are because welfare moms want to get additional benefits and if they can put them on SSI through maintenance drugs, they can also put them on Social Security disability and get a separate check. That is wrong on every single level. Not only is it fraudulent to the government, but it also tells a kid with great potential, “don’t try because you’re disabled.”
The fact that it’s even necessary to dispel the notion that Social Security disability fraud is responsible for gun violence in the United States is a reflection of just how desperate Republicans are to blame anything but guns for gun violence, but here goes.
In Fiscal Year 2011, the Inspector General’s office opened up 4,600 fraud cases related to Social Security disability programs. This number includes a wide variety of fraud, including lying about one’s marital status, stealing money from someone who has died, or unreported income. The actual number of people committing the type of fraud Lankford describes is a minuscule fraction. Meanwhile, nearly 10,000 people are gunned down in an average year.
Situations like this beg for an application of Occam’s Razor. Which seems more likely to contribute to gun violence: “welfare moms” overmedicating their kids in order to commit Social Security fraud, or the vast proliferation of guns and how easy it is to obtain one?