On September 9, the U.S. House Veterans Affairs Committee passed an amendment by U.S. Representative Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) as a part of a larger piece of veterans' legislation. The Veterans Second Amendment Protection Act, which was added to H.R.2349 as an amendment, would provide individuals receiving veterans' benefits with added protection against loss of the right to possess firearms due to mental health decisions.
Currently, when a person has a fiduciary appointed to handle his or her veterans' benefits, the federal government considers that person to have been "adjudicated as a mental defective" and therefore prohibited from possessing firearms.
The injustice of this process has long been criticized both by NRA and by veterans' groups. The current system disarms veterans and others receiving benefits based on a totally administrative process and without requiring any finding that the person poses a danger to himself or herself or to anyone else. Earlier steps to fix this situation were made in the NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007, which required federal agencies that make mental "adjudications" to provide processes under which those affected can apply for "relief from disabilities."
The NRA-backed amendment (also supported by major veterans' groups such as the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars) would provide that for purposes of the firearm prohibition, a person subject to a mental health decision by the VA would not be considered "adjudicated as a mental defective" without a court finding that the person is dangerous.
"Members of our Armed Forces who risked life and limb in defense of country are being denied their Second Amendment freedom simply because they've been appointed a fiduciary by the Department of Veteran Affairs to handle their financial affairs. These are good, honest men and women. They are not a danger to themselves, or to others, and it is wrong to deny them their constitutional freedom," said NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris W. Cox. "Rep. Rehberg's bill addresses this issue and rightly ensures that veterans and their family members aren't prohibited from having guns unless they've been found to be dangerous. NRA would like to thank Rep. Rehberg for his leadership on this important measure."
To read Rep. Rehberg’s news release on the bill, please click here.