Today, U.S. Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), along with 11 cosponsors, introduced legislation that would end the arbitrary process through which the government strips veterans and other Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) beneficiaries of their Second Amendment rights.
Currently, veterans who have a VA appointed fiduciary to help them with their benefits are deemed "mentally defective" and are reported to the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), a system which prevents them from being able to purchase firearms in the United States. The Veterans Second Amendment Protection Act would require that a judicial authority determine that VA beneficiaries pose a danger to themselves or others before they can be added to the FBI's NICS.
"Depriving someone of a Constitutional right is a serious action, and veterans should be afforded the same treatment under the law as all other American citizens," Burr said. "This legislation would protect the rights of veterans and their families by ensuring that only a proper judicial authority is able to determine who is referred to NICS. Our veterans took an oath to uphold the Constitution and they deserve to enjoy the rights they fought so hard to protect."
The Gun Control Act prohibits certain individuals who have been deemed a "mental defective" from purchasing a firearm. As of July 12, 2012, there were over 129,000 VA beneficiaries who had been reported to NICS, stripping them of their constitutional rights simply because VA appointed a fiduciary to act on their behalf. A fiduciary is assigned to handle disability compensation, pension benefits, survivors' compensation, and other VA payments on behalf of a veteran, surviving spouse, dependent child, or dependent parent.
VA's review process for assigning a fiduciary is meant to determine one's ability to manage VA-provided cash assistance. The process does not determine whether they are a danger to themselves or others.
Senators Boozman (R-AR), Wicker (R-MS), Risch (R-ID), Moran (R-KS), Chambliss (R-GA), Roberts (R-KS), Thune (R-SD), Enzi (R-WY), Vitter (R-LA), Crapo (R-ID), and Inhofe (R-OK) are cosponsors of the legislation.