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Mr. MORAN of Kansas. I thank the gentleman from Florida.
My amendment that was proposed to the Rules Committee is one of those that's been denied under this very closed rule.
This appropriation bill does much to honor our Nation's commitment to veterans who have sacrificed for our freedoms, but I'm concerned that our own government is unfairly taking away freedom from those veterans.
Many Americans should be shocked to learn that an outrageous Department of Veterans Affairs process is arbitrarily stripping the Second Amendment rights of veterans and their families who simply receive assistance managing their financial affairs. I offered an amendment to reform the VA practice that wrongly denies gun ownership rights to veterans. Despite the support for this change by a number of veterans organizations, like the American Legion, as well as the National Rifle Association, I am disappointed that the majority did not allow my amendment to go forward and be heard and offered on the floor today.
Federal law prohibits certain individuals from possessing firearms because they pose a danger to society or themselves, such as convicted felons, illegal aliens, and those who are adjudicated mentally ill. The Brady Act requires the FBI to maintain a database of these individuals called the National Instant Criminal Background Check System which prevents them from purchasing firearms.
Over the past 10 years, the VA has sent names of over 100,000 veterans, their spouses, and their children to the FBI, not because they pose any danger, but simply because the VA determined they could not handle their VA benefits. The VA appoints fiduciaries to help veterans who, for example, have a credit problem or who cannot manage their financial affairs due to health reasons.
The VA's review process for assigning a fiduciary only examines a veteran's financial responsibility and does not look at whether the veteran is a danger to himself or others. But when veterans are appointed fiduciaries, the VA automatically deems them as ``mentally defective'' and forwards their names to the FBI. Without so much as a hearing, these veterans are then prohibited by law from purchasing firearms. By comparison, the Social Security Administration has assisted over 5 million beneficiaries with their finances, but the Social Security Administration does not send those names to the FBI.
It is wrong to take away any veteran's constitutional right to keep and bear arms simply because they cannot manage their financial affairs. My amendment would have ended this unjust practice. The amendment would have required that before the VA can forward the veteran's name to the FBI, an appropriate judicial authority must rule that the veteran poses a danger to himself or to others should he own a firearm.
I am disappointed my amendment was denied, and as a result veterans will continue to be denied their due process and constitutional rights. I encourage my colleagues to support legislation that I and the gentleman from Texas have introduced called the Veterans Second Amendment Protection Act, H.R. 2547, to correct this wrong and restore gun rights to our country's veterans.
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