United States military veterans have sacrificed their lives to provide Americans the freedoms they currently enjoy every day.
But oftentimes, our nation’s veterans have been left behind or abandoned in a pile of red tape created by federal bureaucrats who have never even served in the military.
President Trump has been vocal in his support of our military personnel, and campaigned on bringing awareness and change to the struggles they are facing.
One such issue has been that of military veterans losing their protections under the Second Amendment of the Constitution – rights taken away by Obama-era legislation – and has caused only more stress for our former military men and women.
Fortunately, last week, the U.S. House passed the Veterans’ Second Amendment Protection Act in a vote of 240-175.
“About 170,000 disabled veterans are deemed mentally incompetent by the VA,” NPR’s Quil Lawrence reports. “A VA-approved guardian makes some medical and financial decisions for them. Their names go on an FBI list so they can’t purchase guns — House Republicans sponsored the Veterans’ Second Amendment Protection Act to change that.”
United States Code 38 on Veterans’ benefits would add a new hurdle to the process of blocking a veteran whose mental competence is in question from owning a gun. While the Department of Veterans Affairs currently adds the names of veterans it deems unfit to own a deadly weapon to a federal background check system, the bill would require a court hearing before that determination is made.
The vote even crossed party lines, with more than a dozen Democrat Congressmen siding with Republicans to restore gun rights to our veterans.
Under President Obama, any veteran deemed mentally unstable or incompetent was added to the federal background check system, alerting the FBI they were not permitted to purchase a firearm.
The physical and emotional struggles of combat veterans have been heavily reported. If a veteran seeks treatment for PTSD, psychological counseling, or medical treatment for anxiety or depression, they can be adjudicated as mentally incompetent and permanently prohibited from owning a gun.
This basic Constitutional right was further infringed upon should a veteran require guidance with financial issues, like creating a household budget or balancing a checkbook, even if the help is from a family member.
However, the new legislation states, “In any case arising out of the administration by the Secretary of laws and benefits under this title, a person who is mentally incapacitated, deemed mentally incompetent, or experiencing an extended loss of consciousness shall not be considered adjudicated as a mental defective under subsection (d)(4) or (g)(4) of section 922 of title 18 without the order or finding of a judge, magistrate, or other judicial authority of competent jurisdiction that such person is a danger to himself or herself or others.”
This now protects veterans from losing their rights by requiring a hearing before a judge first, so that their circumstances can be adequately reviewed.
The Social Security gun ban was egregious because it portended a loss of Second Amendment rights without due process. The gun ban for military veterans is more of the same. It is structured so that military veterans receiving disability benefits can be investigated if their benefit check is sent to a third party to help manage finances; the premise is that if they need help managing finances they may be mentally unfit for gun ownership. But House Republicans and Second Amendment supporters have pointed out that requiring help balancing a checkbook or managing finances is a far cry from being dangerous with a firearm.
Proponents of keeping Obama’s gun grabbing legislation believe any veteran seeking any kind of help should be deemed mentally incompetent and put on a background check list, claiming that many of the suicides committed by military veterans are with the use of their own gun.
Obama, however, did not stop to think that the increased suicide rate could be due to the lack of respect and dignity afforded to military veterans by those agencies created to protect them — agencies such as the Department of Veterans Affairs, which has repeatedly failed our nation’s vets.
Backers of the bill, such as Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., the chair of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, say it would help veterans avoid being caught up in a bureaucracy that can make it tough to remove a negative label. Roe also cited the importance of “removing the stigma of mentally ill people — that because someone is mentally ill, they’re a danger to themselves or others.”