By Debbie Gregory.
A coalition of retired admirals and generals are protesting “irresponsible and dangerous” legislation they say that would put mentally ill veterans in harm’s way by providing them easy access to firearms.
The United States House of Representatives passed H.R. 1181, the Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act, sponsored by Phil Roe, M.D. (R-TN), Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs. The bill now moves to the U.S. Senate.
The Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act would prevent the Department of Veterans Affairs from reporting veterans’ records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System after they’ve been deemed incapable of managing their financial affairs because of a disabling mental disorder.
In a letter, members of the Veterans Coalition for Common Sense wrote:
The bill you are debating comes at a time when an average of 20 veterans commit suicide each day, two-thirds of whom do so by using a firearm. We know that non-deployed veterans are at a 61 percent higher risk of suicide compared to the American civilian population, and deployed veterans are at a 41 percent higher risk. When vulnerable veterans have access to firearms, they can do harm not only to themselves but also to family members and loved ones. The impact of these tragedies is felt in communities across our nation.”
The coalition is a national initiative launched by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona and her husband Mark Kelly, a Navy combat veteran and retired NASA astronaut. The letter is signed by fourteen veterans representing all branches of the military.
The National Rifle Association, which is backing the bill, says it protects veterans from having their rights “arbitrarily revoked by a government bureaucrat.”
But the actual language of the bill remains vague, without defining what constitutes mentally incapacitated or mentally incompetent. The bill “prohibits, in any case arising out of the administration of laws and benefits by the Department of Veterans Affairs, any person who is mentally incapacitated, deemed mentally incompetent, or experiencing an extended loss of consciousness from being considered adjudicated as a mental defective for purposes of the right to receive or transport firearms without the order or finding of a judicial authority of competent jurisdiction that such person is a danger to himself or herself or others.”
What do you think? Is opposing this common sense or taking away rights?