AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty

VA Shouldn’t be Permitted to Unilaterally Strip Vets of Gun Rights

Veterans put up with a lot during their service days and a lot of them didn’t come out on the other side of their service as well-equipped to deal with some things as they might otherwise have been.

The Veterans Administration is supposed to help those who serve. It’s a bit of a joke that they’re giving us all a second chance to die for our country, but that’s not how it’s supposed to work. They’re supposed to take care of those guys that need it.

Unfortunately, there’s been an issue. The VA was taking vets with fiduciaries–people who help them with their money–and submitting those names to the NICS database as prohibited persons despite no court having ruled them as such.

While the recent budget bill put a hold on that, a lot of us aren’t thrilled that it’s even a possibility. They want the VA to stop trying to do this without due process.

A veteran’s need for help managing disability payments and other benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs should not trigger the loss of his or her right to own a gun, said Monte Twilley, an Army veteran from Texas. 
“The way I see it, a veteran may be appointed a fiduciary for a number of reasons, if they’re having trouble with finances. And veterans appreciate the VA’s help with that. But it’s a separate issue from someone’s mental competence to bear arms, and it needs to be scrutinized as such,” he said. 
Twilley, a retired Army sergeant who served from 1977-1986 and had a second tour of duty from 1995-1996, is among veterans weighing in on legislation that would stop the VA from taking away the gun rights of veterans who require fiduciaries to handle their monthly disability checks, pensions and other VA benefits. 
Under the current law, a determination by the VA that a veteran is unable to manage his or her finances also disqualifies that individual from possessing, owning or receiving firearms. The Veterans Second Amendment Protection Act is part of the $467.5 billion consolidated spending bill that passed the House on Wednesday and was adopted by the Senate late Friday, averting a government shutdown. The bill funds VA programs.

The truth is that this never should have been a thing.

While being bad with money might be a concerning sign, the truth is that a lot of very responsible gun owners are arguably very bad with money. That’s how they have so many guns on a regular, middle-class salary. They’ve never hurt a soul with those guns except in self-defense.

I mean, there were times when I was pretty bad with money that might have liked to have had someone help me out with it, someone like a fiduciary. I wouldn’t have given up my Second Amendment rights for it, though.

What’s more, the idea of any body or agency being able to strip someone of their rights unilaterally is problematic no matter how you decide to cut it. If the VA could decide that someone doesn’t get to exercise one of their rights, how long before other agencies figure out ways to strip people of their right to keep and bear arms? How long until they start trying to restrict other rights as well?

No, the VA needs to be smacked down over this and we need to figure out how this was allowed to happen in the first place so that we never see it happen again.

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