VA to ID incompetent veteran gun owners

| December 3, 2012 | 25 Comments

I’ve had this link sent to me about twenty times this morning. Most of the emails had “WTF?” in the subject line. It seems that Congress is trying to stick a line in the defense budget which would allow bureaucrats at the Department of Veterans Affairs to name veterans they deem as incompetent to manage their financial affairs, needing a fiduciary to manage their money for them, and enter those names into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Apparently, the usual suspects are willing to take these folks’ rights from them in Congress;

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.”

Yeah, that makes me feel better. I’ll be able to sleep tonight because Chuckie Schumer loves me. But, we’ve all witnessed the incompetence of the Veterans’ Affairs Department. We know that they’ll be more than happy to put as many veterans in NICs system as they can cram in to the data base, because they’re always eager to do anything that doesn’t have to do with helping veterans.

A core group of lawmakers led by Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., has for several years wanted to prohibit the VA from submitting those names to the gun-check registry unless a judge or magistrate deems the veteran to be a danger. This year’s version of the bill has 21 co-sponsors. It passed the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee by voice vote, a tactic generally reserved for noncontroversial legislation.

What Schumer objects to is the amendment by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla. who wants a judge to make the decision as to which veterans get put on the list, which makes sense, since the last I heard, the Fifth Amendment says “No person shall…be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law…”, and since owning a gun is a right, a liberty, veterans should be granted due process, not subject to the arbitrary decision of a faceless, nameless bureaucrat.

The Associated Press article claims that only 185 veterans have been put on the list against their wishes since 1998, but one is too many. When one person loses their rights, we all lose.

Someone you may have heard of spoke to this issue four years ago;

Mark Seavey, a lobbyist for the American Legion, supports Burr’s proposal and said it isn’t right to lump veterans with financial troubles into the group of people on the no-buy list.

He also worries about broadly stereotyping veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder but still have control of their affairs.

“We didn’t want to stigmatize people,” Seavey said. “It should be anybody who actually is a threat to themselves or others. I think veterans as individuals ought to be given the constitutional rights they fought for.”

But, rest assured that Chuckie Schumer loves you. He’d love you more if you didn’t own a gun.

Category: Politics, Veterans Issues

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  1. Gravel says:

    VA doing what it does best … which is doing stuff other than their primary function, to the detriment of their primary function.

  2. Hondo says:

    Jonn, I think you may have this one backwards amigo. As I read it, this is something the VA has been routinely doing for years. Over 127,000 veterans have been affected.

    The VA currently puts veterans who are deemed incompetent by the VA to handle their financial affairs and who have a fiduciary appointed to manage their finances into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

    The current amendment to the Defense bill under consideration would prohibit the VA from doing this, not allow them to continue doing so.

  3. FatCircles says:

    I’m ok with this just as long as when Libtards lie and show their incompetence via insolvent policies that continue to fail lose their 1st amendment rights.Libtards are always the first ones trying to deny rights to their fellow citizens yet time and time again continue to abuse those same rights without repercussion.

  4. Twist says:

    I can’t grasp the logic here. If I bounce a check I am going to become a violent criminal that is going to go on a shooting spree?

  5. FatCircles says:

    @4

    Yes. Apparently being unable to handle your own fiances means you’re a danger to society. If you can’t handle your fiances and are on government support you are however competent enough to vote yourself more money from other taxes payers.

  6. Just Plain Jason says:

    This may sound kinda complicated, but if you have gone under treatment this will make sense…

    I have a tendency to overspend my money, so I have voluntarily put my wife in charge of my finances. It isn’t that I am incompetent, but I would rather have her in charge of the money because at times I can have impulse control when it comes to money. Now what Chucky Shumer is doing is trying to say that anyone who doesn’t control their own finances isn’t competent enough to own a gun.

  7. Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

    @4 Unless you are Tim Geitner, then you can ignore your tax bill and be appointed to the post of making sure everybody else pays their taxes….there’s more than a little irony in all this to be sure. An administration with many appointees of questionable character deciding on what’s questionable in the rest of us….nice.

  8. Parachute Cutie says:

    TOTALY BULLSHIT. I know of a young man who was given a 100% disability ratiing by the VA but was told that before he could receive any benefits he had to sign over his guns and his fical responsibility. WTF? This young man does suffer from PTS as well as physical disabilities but it NOT incapable of taking care of himself or owning weapons.

    Haven’t been this pissed off in a LOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG time.

  9. Hondo says:

    JPJ: this isn’t a voluntary program. It’s one where a vet (or an other authorized recipient of VA benefit payments, like a vet’s dependent) has been adjudged by either a court or by the VA to be incompetent to manage their finances. In such cases a fiduciary is appointed by either the court or the VA to do that on their behalf, receives benefit payments, and makes disbursements on their behalf.

    The VA claims that 18 USC 922(d)(4) makes it unlawful for anyone for whom they’ve appointed a fiduciary to procure a firearm. (I’m sure there’s another part of the USC mandating reporting of such determinations to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, but I don’t have the time or inclination to find that part of the USC at present.) While that would appear to be the case where a court has judged someone incapable of managing their financial affairs and has mandated a fiduciary be appointed for that individual, it’s unclear as to whether the VA unilaterally making such a determination would be the case.

    The text of 18 USC 922 may be found at

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/922

    Bottom line: this is being done as the result of the VA interpreting a Clinton-era gun control law in a manner requiring the VA to report this information to the FBI (which manages the NICBCS). It’s nothing new.

  10. MCPO NYC USN (Ret.) says:

    Ah … they can try this all day long:

    “It seems that Congress is trying to stick a line in the defense budget which would allow bureaucrats at the Department of Veterans Affairs to name veterans they deem as incompetent to manage their financial affairs, needing a fiduciary to manage their money for them, and enter those names into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.”

    It will never happen. Only a an appointed, elected, and or sworn, and sitting judge can do that (take guns and money)! And only if the judge has jurisdiction.

    So let’s see … a GS-09 dumb ass at the VA says, “oh no … dis Navy guy crazy like bat shit, over here, on rainy day … I recommed based on my little experience and lack of evidence, to forever take his guns and his checkbook with all money for now.” Probably not to far from the truth!

    In reality … Sounds like a job of federal magistrate now because a federal dumb ass has made the assertion, and it will deny ones rights. No federal judge will touch this!

    Just because a person can exercise “judgement” … good or bad, it does not exactly make him a judge.

    Chuckee’s use of the word above “judged” is very interesting!

  11. Hondo says:

    Guys . . . this issue not new. It’s been going on for quite a while – long enough to affect 127,000 or so vets – thanks to the consequences of a Clinton-era gun control law passed in the early/mid 1990s.

    The amendment being currently discussed in Congress won’t PERMIT the VA to do anything. Rather, the amendment being discussed would PROHIBIT the VA from reporting this type of information to NICBCS. They’re doing exactly that today. When they determine a vet can’t manage his/her financial affairs, they report that fact to NICBCS – and the vet is now on the “bad” list unless and until they successfully get themselves removed from same.

    I have to admit I’m of mixed opinions here. On one hand, if someone has been formally adjudged incompetent to manage their affairs, I’m not sure they should be purchasing firearms.

    However, I also don’t see that as a decision that should be made by some guy at the VA, other than perhaps a VA psychiatrist. And even then, the VA psychiatrist shouldn’t make the call; he/she should provide input. IMO whether or not someone is legally competent is properly a matter for a court to decide – not the VA.

  12. Nik says:

    “However, I also don’t see that as a decision that should be made by some guy at the VA, other than perhaps a VA psychiatrist. And even then, the VA psychiatrist shouldn’t make the call; he/she should provide input. IMO whether or not someone is legally competent is properly a matter for a court to decide – not the VA.”

    That’s the source of my objection.

    If a Federal Judge has had a hearing and properly heard all testimony and evidence before him and adjudicated that a vet isn’t capable of dealing responsibility with guns or money, ok. That’s far and away from a little GS-Nothing doing so based on their whim-of-the-day, and without proper response from the vet-and citizen-in question.

  13. JBS says:

    You guys should also watch out how you answer those questions at a VA care provider appointment. I don’t drink anything (not even water) and I have never thought of harming myself or anyone else, ever. I feel like a billion bucks at all times. ~sarc
    Saying the wrong thing could lead to, “Do you own any weapons?”

  14. Ex-PH2 says:

    Let me see if I correctly understand this: Up to now, 127,000++ vets with emotional (and possibly mental) dysfunction, service-related or not, and an inability to manage their own money have been put on a criminal watch list?

    Usually, people who give someone financial power of attorney do so because they are unable to take care of themselves in a so-called “normal” way, e.g., having a stroke or an incapacitating accident, and requiring the assistance of a caregiver of some kind.

    I’m just trying to understand this. A vet who has had a stroke is more than likely going to have a difficult time managing ordinary things like balancing a checkbook. That hardly makes him/her incompetent, but at the same time, the vet will probably require help to function normally.

    So what moron decided that this physical state makes this person a threat to anyone? This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of in my life.

  15. streetsweeper says:

    It is simply put (without using the grandiose language I see floating about the ‘net), the statists(commie)bureaucratic way of neutralizing any potential threats to their utopian dreams. Anybody that says we vets don’t have to worry about it, is either plum nucking futs OR on-board with the statists.

  16. streetsweeper says:

    I hope this is the correct info from 18USC922(d)(4):

    (d) It shall be unlawful for any person to sell or otherwise
    dispose of any firearm or ammunition to any person knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that such person –

    (1) is under indictment for, or has been convicted in any court of, a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year;

    (2) is a fugitive from justice;

    (3) is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled
    substance (as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 802));

    (4) has been adjudicated as a mental defective or has been
    committed to any mental institution;

  17. DaveO says:

    It’s the ‘camel-nose-in-the-tent’ routine. This measure sounds legitimate, but the definition of ‘mentally incompetent’ and so on always gets broadened.

    Looks at the hordes of folks mooching off of Social Security Disability – like the adult baby – a judge, not a mental health professional, will define mental incompetence in a way that any vet, or any citizen for that matter who’s been diagnosed with PTSD/TBI will have their Second Amendment right taken away.

    If y’all recall, this was attempted a long while back – like labelling all OIF and OEF vets as proto-terrorists, there was also an attempted gun-grab against vets with PTSD.

    http://www.federalwaymirror.com/opinion/58747257.html

  18. ex-Army doc says:

    @10 @12 Hondo
    @13Nik

    You have it figured correctly. This program is not new. The objection to it should come from two places:

    1. There is no obvious relationship between difficulty managing money and safely using a firearm. According to VA, if you cannot balance a checkbook then you may not own a firearm. This is stupid. There may be instances, for example late stage Alzheimer’s disease where problems with checkbooks and trigger control occur at the same time. That doesn’t make them related.

    VA doesn’t recommend losing a driver’s license when a veteran can’t balance a checkbook. By their logic, they should. Fortunately, Congress hasn’t yet written a law linking problems with money management to losing a driver’s license.

    2. No employee of the federal government’s executive branch should be allowed to remove a Constitutional right. It should not matter if the fed employee is a GS-9, GS-15, VA psychiatrist or psychologist, or the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Taking away one of the rights spelled out in the Constitution should be reserved for a federal magistrate or judge.

    Hondo is correct. This problem is an old one. Veterans everywhere who own firearms should thank Sen Burr for repeated attempts to fix this problem. But I don’t see a VA conspiracy here. It’s a misguided policy decision from years ago.

    If anyone challenges the VA over this issue in federal court, the VA most likely loses for assuming power that should be reserved for a judge. But a judge won’t tell VA to knock it off until someone files a lawsuit about this issue.

  19. ex af says:

    You have a mental condition you should have your guns taken away. how often do you hear of some nut case vet going off and shooting law enforcement? Or killing his family.

    We don’t do this, but they have no right to access to a weapon if they have a mental problem.

    Which includes most of the posters on this list……(WTF PO the GDI…..)

  20. Cajun says:

    Heh. Without ever knowing about this, I intuitively lied on both my PDHA/PDHRAs while doing the reverse-SRP. Still love annual PHAs where the “provider” (nurse practitioner usually) asks vague, brain-dead questions like “was it hard coming home?”

  21. Ex-PH2 says:

    @21, Or how about this one “were you sexually assaulted?” 36 years AFTER I left the Navy.

  22. There I stood says:

    As a service officer, I have seen many veterans who have lost their ability to own firearms due to either PTSD or drug therapy that has lead to an incompetency decision. If competency & fiduciary are involved, it’s automatically in the decision rating.

  23. Hondo says:

    ex af: you’re wrong. IMO, it is obviously you that has a mental condition vice everyone else here. Therefore, per your own statement above you have no right to own a firearm. So if you own one go to the nearest police station and turn it in. Otherwise the FBI will be by to see you pronto!

    Although the above statement is intended as satire, it’s not all that far from what’s going on here. By policy, the VA is deeming anyone who has a fiduciary appointed for them to be “mentally defective” for the purposes of 18 USC 922(d)(4). They’re doing this without conducting a full evaluation of the individual’s competency, and without involving any court of law.

    Two major problems here. First, the VA appears to have no more authority to do this than does any guy off the street. Courts declare persons mentally incompetent, not some “Joe Schmoe” who may or may not even be a mental health professional. Even doctors and mental health professionals merely advise courts in this area; it is generally the courts which make the final legal determination of competency. The 14th Amendment’s due process guarantees would seem to argue against what’s going on here; an administrative decision by application of rule or policy doesn’t exactly seem to be the “due process of law” envisioned by the 14th Amendment. And I’d guess exactly that will be the ruling if/when this matter is ever taken to court.

    Second: not every “mental health problem” rises to the level of mental incompetence. There are various forms and degrees of mental health issues. Successful treatment for mild depression or stress issues – or even attending counseling of any type – is arguably evidence of a “mental condition”. Are you really arguing that anyone who’s ever seen a counselor should lose a Constitutional right, ex af? Because that’s exactly what you appear to be proposing here if your words are taken at face value.

  24. Last Paratrooper says:

    Can anyone here refer me to a lawyer who will represent me in fighting the VA.

    I went to the VA two years ago for hearing aids, advanced degenerative arthritis, diabetes and high blood pressure, and to be tested for agent orange exposure. I never requested a PTSD diagnosis, evaluation or help!

    I got the hearing aids and a back brace, walker and cane and am thankful.

    However last September I also received a letter telling me that I was going to loose my right to “keep and bear arms” and was labeled as incompetent.

    First of all I am a gunsmith and have thousands of dollars invested in tools, guns and gun parts. This has striped me of my ability to earn a living now.

    A man came to my house and told me that I was going to get $71,000.00 from the VA and a check every month for about $3,000.00. Believe me I love the idea of having that money but I prefer to keep my guns my business and my gos given rights as listed in the Bill of Rights.

    I have never been arrested, I was trained in firearms safety and marksmanship in the Army, By the FBI at a Community College course in firearm safety, and through the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy. I was also a police officer in both North and South Carolina before moving to California.

    To top this off my wife and I were planning for years to retire to the Philippines where we own a home and live out our lives there. I learn now learn that I am disqualified from immigrating there because of this VA diagnosis.

    Is there any6one that can take on the VA and drag them into a court of law and force them to reverse these acts that smack of fraud on the part of the VA?

    If you know of a lawyer or law firm that can help please send me their contact info to last_paratrooper@verizon.net.

    Thank you guys!

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