Veterans’ Gun Rights An Ongoing Issue
Inclusion on the list would mean those veterans would be prohibited from buying or owning firearms. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., has stated that though he loves the country’s veterans, if they have been deemed mentally unfit, they should not have possession of a gun.
“The Veterans Administration currently appoints fiduciaries, usually the family members of a veteran, to manage his or her pensions and disability benefits when they have been declared mentally incompetent,” said Veterans disability lawyer James Fausone. “When a vet has been declared mentally incompetent, his or her name is automatically entered in the Criminal Background Check System.”
A group, led by Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., has been pushing to change that policy, allowing the addition of the name to the list only if a judge deemed the veteran to be a danger. This latest version of the bill, co-sponsored by 21 lawmakers, passed the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. The legislation also has the backing of the National Rifle Association and numerous veterans’ advocacy groups. Meanwhile, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence supports the VA’s current policy. Tom Tarantino, chief policy officer for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, has stated that vets who have a traumatic brain injury or PTSD, but who pose no actual threat to others might view the current restriction as a disincentive to seek treatment.
As of 1998, 185 of the 127,000 veterans on the gun-check registry list have worked to have their names removed, according to the VA. Veterans can appeal their diagnosis, and can petition for their firearm rights to be reinstated by the agency to have his firearm rights restored on the basis of not posing a threat to public safety.