The House approved a “controversial bill” last week that prevents the government from denying certain veterans their 2A rights without due process.
The Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act (H.R. 1181) would change the law so that the Department of Veterans Affairs can’t make the call as to whether one is fit to own a firearm. That decision must be made by a judge or court, according to the bill.
If approved by the Senate, the change to the law will read as follows:
Conditions for treatment of certain persons as adjudicated mentally incompetent for certain purposes
In any case arising out of the administration by the Secretary of laws and benefits under this title, a person who is mentally incapacitated, deemed mentally incompetent, or experiencing an extended loss of consciousness shall not be considered adjudicated as a mental defective under subsection (d)(4) or (g)(4) of section 922 of title 18 without the order or finding of a judge, magistrate, or other judicial authority of competent jurisdiction that such person is a danger to himself or herself or others.
Under the current system, the VA sends the names of veterans it deems unfit to own a firearm, including those who use fiduciary help them with their finances, to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
Proponents of the bill argue that fundamental rights shouldn’t be unilaterally revoked by a government bureaucracy. Moreover, just because one opts not to manage their finances, doesn’t mean they should lose their right to keep and bear arms.
“Needing help managing your money does not make you a danger to society. The NRA is pleased with the House vote today and we look forward to the Senate taking action soon,” said NRA-ILA executive director Chris Cox.
Critics of the bill argue that adding that extra step of judicial oversight puts veterans suffering with mental illnesses in harms way.
“When a determination is made that a veteran is mentally incompetent or incapacitated — for whatever reason — that determination is made to protect them, not to punish or deprive them,” Rep. Anthony Brown (D-MD) told NPR.
On one hand, it’s important to keep guns away from veterans with suicide ideations. On the other, empowering government to strip Constitutional rights from a certain class of citizens without due process is a dangerous business.
As mentioned, the bill will now head to the Senate for consideration. We’ll keep you posted on its progress.