WASHINGTON – Should veterans deemed too mentally incompetent to handle their own financial affairs be prevented from buying a gun?
The issue, for a time last week, threatened to become the biggest sticking point in a $631 billion defense bill for reshaping a military that is disengaging from a decade of warfare.
Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., sought to amend the bill to stop the Veterans Affairs Department from putting the names of veterans deemed too mentally incompetent to handle their finances into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which prohibits them from buying or owning firearms.
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., objected, saying the measure would make it easier for veterans with mental illness to own a gun, endangering themselves and others.
"I love our veterans, I vote for them all the time. They defend us," Schumer said. "If you are a veteran or not and you have been judged to be mentally infirm, you should not have a gun."
Currently, the VA appoints fiduciaries, often family members, to manage the pensions and disability benefits of veterans who are declared incompetent. When that happens, the department automatically enters the veteran's name in the Criminal Background Check System.
nice, what's next, veterans can't buy guns at all?
Most likely. You killed in war? Well now your just going to go around and start shooting people left and right. I never saw combat but the Army trained me to shoot first and think second. Have I shot anybody in the last year? Nope.
yeah, it's nuts. I can be trusted with automatic weapons, grenades, grenade launchers, aircraft dropping or launching ordinance... but don't let us have guns back home!
We're obviously too mentally unstable, but only in the states. Can totally be trusted on our own in a foreign country though when it's time to do the country's dirt work. Hey, welcome home you mental psychopath! no guns for you!
"Loud noises don't end gunfights.... well placed shots do."
I was told the other day when I went to see the wizard at the VA by another vet that when they ask have you ever felt like hurting yourself or others and you answer yes they report it to local authorities if you have a ccw because your unstable. Now really name one person that has driven in rush hour that hasnt felt like hurting someone.
"To prohibit a citizen from wearing or carrying a war arm . . . is an unwarranted restriction upon the constitutional right to keep and bear arms. If cowardly and dishonorable men sometimes shoot unarmed men with army pistols or guns, the evil must be prevented by the penitentiary and gallows, and not by a general deprivation of constitutional privilege." [Wilson v. State, 33 Ark. 557, at 560, 34 Am. Rep. 52, at 54 (1878)]
Military personnel gun rights surface in defense appropriations amendment debate
A measure backed by those claiming it will help stem military member suicides and removing guns from veterans deemed financially incompetent are both being debated in the Senate. Miltary.com reported yesterday on an amendment to the Senate version of the National Defense Authorization Act sponsored by Sen. John Kerry that would “ … authorize … mental health professionals and commanding officers to ask servicemembers about firearms and ammunition when they believe them at risk for suicide.” Also, The Washington Times reported yesterday on an argument by Sen. Tom Coburn over the same bill to ensure veterans who have a fiduciary appointed to handle their benefits “ … have their cases adjudicated by a judge -- rather than the Department of Veterans Affairs, as happens currently -- [when] veterans who simply cannot support themselves financially are needlessly given the label [mentally incompetent] and, as such, cannot buy or possess firearms.”
While some, like CNN founder Ted Turner, see an increase in military suicides as “good” because, as he told Piers Morgan (naturally), that will somehow pave the way for a more enlightened United Nations world policeman, people who are actually sane can debate on the effects of removing firearms from people committed to killing themselves, and the danger for abuse if government is allowed to essentially, by documenting such matters in its records, compile a list of active duty firearms owners, and in apparent contravention of funding proscriptions against such a database established by current law. That’s a discussion that needs to happen in the light, not behind closed doors.
But applicable in both current member and veteran situations is a concern articulated by Coburn that must not be ignored.
“We’re just saying that if you’re going to take away the Second Amendment rights … they ought to have it adjudicated, rather than mandated by someone who’s unqualified to state that they should lose their rights,” he asserted.
Arguing that due process already exists was Brian Malte of the Brady Campaign, who maintained “Gun possession is allowed if competency is restored.”
True. Provided anyone so “legally” disabled has the wherewithal to pursue matters, and remember what they're being singled out for, and with the understanding that until such time as he does, his rights are being denied whether he’s subjected to danger or not. And provided a “guilty until proven innocent” standard is really something people will be happy with when they find it results in their ox being gored, too, under other circumstances when those who would compel us to trade liberty for the illusion of security have succeeded in further eroding both.
That’s why some argued against such a state of affairs in the first place.
"But the simple truth--born of experience--is that tyranny thrives best where government need not fear the wrath of an armed people."
Judge Alex Kozinski - United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
It is the duty of the patriot to protect his country from its government.
- Thomas Paine