Americans’ Second Amendment rights are under fire from all sides, and veterans are in the crosshairs. For our entire existence as a country, America has allowed—even encouraged—its citizens to be armed. The framers of the Constitution wanted to ensure each citizen felt safe in his own home—his castle.
Lately, though, lawmakers and special-interest groups have been chipping away at our gun rights. Worse, they have targeted veterans because they know we are the biggest threat to their power.
Veterans as a whole own more firearms than civilians. By virtue of military training, veterans are also generally more competent using personal firearms, which worries a lot of lawmakers who, for the past fifty years, have been emplacing strict gun-control measures in the US.
As veterans age, they fear losing their combat edge against younger would-be opponents, and so buy more firearms and ammo for protection. Male veterans 60 and older have the largest number and type of firearms among all veterans, and stockpile more ammo than any other group. The majority of these veterans live in less-populated rural areas where law enforcement usually does not wish to patrol.
The Second Amendment of the US Constitution protects a person’s right to bear arms, but the very veterans’ advocacy organization and protector of veterans, the VA, has systematically used loopholes that essentially strip this right from veterans it labels as “financially incompetent.”
Doesn’t that sound silly, going after a veteran’s gun rights using such a tactic? Since it works so effectively, the VA wields it like a light saber and strikes at will.
How does the VA skirt federal law and the Second Amendment of the US Constitution?
Simply by declaring a veteran incompetent to handle his own financial affairs. They label him “mentally incompetent” and appoint him a fiduciary. As a result, the VA generates a record that is transmitted to the FBI.
They submit the veteran’s record to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, a detailed database containing names and details of people who were flagged by a government department. Thus, the FBI restricts the veteran’s access to firearms and makes it nearly impossible to challenge the decision.
From the DAV article “Veterans and Guns”: “As of the start of 2017, federal agencies had contributed 171,083 records to the system’s index under the new provision enacted by the ATF.
The VA contributed 98.1% of those.
That is a shock to the system. And a wake-up call to all us veterans.
Statistics can be misapplied and abused. They can show an effect where one doesn’t actually exist. But the above statistic, 98.1%, cannot be ignored. It proves that the VA is practicing its own form of gun control among veterans. And no one is talking about it, not even the organizations that aid veterans.
How does the VA skirt federal law and the Second Amendment of the US Constitution?
After all, a veteran’s ineligibility must be adjudicated in court, right?
Several veterans I spoke with said they had PTSD but refused to seek help from the VA because they suspected the VA would take away their guns and ammo. They’re right, although the VA claims they would never deny a veteran their constitutional rights.
Proponents of gun control say the VA is doing the right thing, keeping guns and ammo out of the hands of mentally unstable men and women. They do have a point, and they are using it as a blanket excuse for turning in veterans to the FBI, to restrict their gun rights.
What proponents are now arguing is a double-edged sword: on one hand, they claim to be protecting us from unstable veterans with guns, and to protect veterans from themselves, i.e. from taking their own life. On the other, though, they are misapplying statistics to target all veterans.
The result is that their sword destroys more lives than it saves, and it removes our right to bear arms.
According to Title 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(d), the following are disqualified from purchasing and possessing firearms: felons, fugitives, persons addicted to controlled substances, undocumented immigrants, people dishonorably discharged from the armed forces, persons who have renounced their U.S. citizenship, subjects of a qualifying domestic protection order, persons convicted of domestic violence, and persons who have been adjudicated by a court of law as mentally defective or who have been involuntarily committed to a mental institution.
To strengthen federal firearms laws, the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 (Brady Act) required the U.S. Attorney General (AG) to establish the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) for federal firearms licensees (FFL) to contact by telephone, or other electronic means, for information to be supplied immediately as to whether the transfer of a firearm would violate Section 922(g) or (n) of Title 18, United States Code (U.S.C.), or state law.
From the 2018 DAV article “Veterans and Guns”: John I. Harris, a practicing attorney with more than three decades of judicial experience, volunteers as the executive director of the Tennessee Firearm Association. He said: “Basically, what [the law] says is that when someone is adjudicated as mentally incompetent, your gun owner rights can be taken away. But the problem is, in some cases, obtaining Social Security or disability benefits for mental health issues can also take your rights away.”
The VA insists that doesn’t happen. Oh, but it does, on a massive scale.
“Patients are neither flagged for these or other mental health diagnoses, nor does a patient record flag directly affect the ability to purchase firearms,” said Curt Cashour, VA press secretary [No longer in post; replaced by Terrence L. Hayes in 2021].
The VA is lying outright: it has already happened to nearly 200,000 veterans.
Let’s consider that statistic for a moment: the VA has knowingly stripped the constitutional rights of almost 200,000 of our beloved veterans, and we are just now hearing about it?
Of all the VA infractions over the years, including the fact it has paid out a billion dollars in medical malpractice claims over the past ten years, actively and knowingly removing the constitutional rights of veterans is deplorable, if not illegal.
And damn the loopholes. No, damn those VA attorneys and General Counsel who practice this despicable behavior.
Here’s a scary scenario for you to consider: you are a 100% disabled veteran who travels to a VA hospital for a routine blood test and urinalysis. While sitting quietly in the waiting room, a disgruntled employee trips over your shoe and then unleashes a tirade on you, striking you in the face. Your only defense is to step up and attempt to stop your attacker. You put your hands up and push him away.
Several other employees witness the encounter but report you to the VA Police for “striking a VA employee.” You are arrested on the spot and taken to a VA Police holding cell, where you are later transported to a county jail for processing.
According to the VA Handbook 0730/ 3:
(2) On Property Arrests: Arrest procedures should be judiciously followed. In all circumstances warranting the arrest of an individual, the arresting VA Police officer must ensure that the rights and privileges guaranteed by the Constitution are protected at all times, including appropriate Miranda warnings.
(a) An arrestee will be transported without unnecessary delay to a detention facility or to the appropriate judicial authority (U.S. Magistrate, local Magistrate, or local Judge) for an initial appearance, in accordance with law and established instructions.
(b) To the extent possible, persons arrested will be transported by the U.S. Marshals Service or local police. When such transport cannot be arranged, VA Police will transport the person arrested in accordance with instructions of the U.S. Attorney or local prosecutor. In some U.S. Districts, the U.S. Attorney may specify that the U.S. Marshal be called to transport arrested suspects, whereas in other U.S. Districts, the U.S. Attorney may prescribe that the arresting agency transport the offender.
Basically, you are screwed, because several “VA witnesses” corroborated their trumped-up story against you, and no one else came forward in your defense.
Wearing an orange jumpsuit and jellies, you are escorted in handcuffs to face a county judge. She looks you up and down, sees you’re a mess, asks a few questions, then orders that you be remanded to the county mental-health facility for 72 hours of observation.
In Florida, you just got Baker-Acted. In California, 5150’d. Elsewhere, just plain screwed.
Weeks later, after you’ve been released from the mental ward, you receive notice from the VA that you have been deemed mentally incompetent and are now being assigned a fiduciary to guard your financial assets and affairs.
The guns and ammunition in your home are confiscated by federal officers.
The FBI sends you a letter informing you that you have been placed in its National Instant Criminal Background Check System, and that you are no longer eligible to own, possess or purchase firearms or ammunition.
The VA is now considering retesting you to see if you are still 100% disabled. You could conceivably lose your 100% disability status and your monthly payments. Forget the fact they just stole all your firearms, which you’ve had for over 30 years. They are now going after your very existence.
And the nightmare is just beginning. . . .
How often do you think this scenario happens to a veteran in today’s America?
Every single day.
At this point, you should be firing mad.
Now what are you gonna do about it? What can you do to counter the moves of a behemoth organization with endless legal resources?
As it happens, there’s a lot you can do, starting with arming yourself with the facts. I have presented only the basics here. You should do your own research and talk with your elected officials, see where they stand on gun control, especially with veterans.
Get involved to preserve your and others’ basic constitutional rights.
Whatever you do, do NOT tuck your tail between your legs and ignore the situation.
Put on your game face, get together with trusted comrades, and get back in the game. No one said that the war ended when you got honorably discharged.
For us veterans, the war continues.
Department of Veterans Affairs. (2014). VA HANDBOOK 0730/ 3: Security and Law Enforcement. Washington, DC.
Wilson S (2018). Veterans and Guns. Accessed and vetted 21 January 2021: https://www.dav.org/learn-more/news/2018/veterans-guns/
AUTHOR: Bo Riley reports on issues of interest to veterans and active-duty personnel. He’s a former Army Ranger with the 1st Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, and lives in the Tampa Bay area.