Tens of Thousands of Veterans Requiring Bookkeeping Services Are Banned From Owning Guns

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Senator Chuck Grassley sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder on April 13th wanting to know why tens of thousands of military veterans are routinely and unfairly blocked from owning guns. The VA is making the decisions based on Veterans who require bookkeeping services. They are not being given  due process. The standard used is an end-run around the gun control law.

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The FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System has a mentally defective category that is almost completely filled with veterans – 99.3% to be exact. The names are supplied by the VA from a list of veterans who required bookkeeping services.

All federal agencies are required to report names of individuals who are dangers to themselves or others to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System’s “mental defective” category — a status that prevents them from owning or possessing guns – but the VA is the agency supplying more than 99% of the names, The Washington Times reported.

That means veterans “are particularly singled out,” Grassley wrote, “those they deem incompetent to manage fiduciary benefits might be placed in the ‘mental defective’ category but the VA doesn’t actually consider “whether a veteran is a danger to himself, herself, or others,” which is the federal standard for denying someone a gun.'”

There is a “real possibility that the right to firearms will be infringed,” 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.”

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.

“It’s disturbing to think that the men and women who dedicated themselves to defending our freedom and values face undue threats to their fundamental Second Amendment rights from the very agency established to serve them,” Grassley wrote.

Veterans are targeted immediately upon contact with VA personnel.

There is “a real possibility that the right to firearms will be infringed,” Grassley said.

“Under the current practice, a VA finding that concludes that a veteran requires a fiduciary to administer benefit payments effectively voids his Second Amendment rights—a consequence which is wholly unrelated to and unsupported by the record developed in the VA process. Accordingly, Congress needs to understand what justifies taking such action without more due process protections for the veteran,” Grassley wrote.

When it comes to our veterans, the government might have preconceived notions.

It was on April 7, 2009, the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) issued a nine-page document titled “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment.”

“Rightwing extremism,” the report said in a footnote, goes beyond religious and racial hate groups and extends to “those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely.”

“It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration,” said the report, which also listed gun owners and veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars as potential risks.

It said this about our veterans:

The return of military veterans facing significant challenges reintegrating into their communities could lead to the potential emergence of terrorist groups or lone wolf extremists capable of carrying out violent attacks.

[…]

Returning veterans possess combat skills and experience that are attractive to right-wing extremists,” it says. “DHS/I&A is concerned that right-wing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize veterans in order to boost their violent capacities

Now we have a case where tens of thousands or our veterans who have some fiduciary limitations are being deprived of their Second Amendment rights without due process and without a basis in the law after they served our country honorably. Maybe the government’s attitude hasn’t changed since 2009.

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