Two Senate Republicans are trying to find out why 260,000 vets have been stripped of their gun rights. The Veterans Affairs office has made it a practice to report veterans to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check system.
If veterans need help doing paper work, they lose their rights. It’s clearly a violation of the Second Amendment.
Any veteran who is assigned a fiduciary trustee to act on their behalf is automatically declared “mentally defective” and is reported to NICS, the database Federal Firearms Licensees use to determine whether a prospective buyer is eligible to buy guns.
As of December 2015, the VA has reported 260,381 individuals to the FBI, effectively making them prohibited firearms possessors under the law.
U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, an Iowa lawmaker who is currently the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman, along with Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., penned a letter to VA Secretary Robert McDonald last week and another to the subcommittee over the agency’s funding, questioning the practice.
He sent a similar letter last year in which he wrote:
Veterans are placed in the ‘mental defective’ category if they need help with bookkeeping and that list is used to prevent them from owning guns.
“Specifically, once the VA determines that a veteran requires a fiduciary to administer benefit payments, the VA [immediately, upon first contact] reports that veteran to the gun ban list, consequently denying his or her right to possess and own firearms.”
The VA justifies its actions by relying on a single federal regulation, 38 C.F.R. § 3.353, which grants limited authority to determine incompetence, but “only in the context of financial matters.”
They VA regulation is being used to violate the Second Amendment.
The VA regulation’s “core purpose applies to matters of competency for financial purposes…and it has nothing to do with regulating firearms.” The “regulation itself, the federal statutory provision granting the VA the authority to promulgate the regulation is squarely focused on financial matters and was not designed to impose firearm restrictions.”
“The standard in the law for firearm regulation is different that that imposed by the VA.” The legal standard for ‘mental defective’ allows regulation only when someone is a danger to themselves or others.
The VA regulation is insufficient to make the determination that a veteran is incompetent to own a gun.
The “standard of review is particularly low” for the VA category, “hearsay is allowed”, and “there are no significant checks and balances in place.” There is no due process.
The VA supplies over 99% of the individuals reported as “mentally defective” to NICS. They lose their rights without due process.
A similar standard has been proposed by the Social Security Administration to strip gun rights from as many as 75,000 beneficiaries per year according to figures released by the White House in January.