Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly’s gun control group, the so-called Americans for Responsible Solutions, has been attempting to solicit support for the VA’s gun ban in a strange place—among members of the military.
Giffords and Kelly have made an ally of longtime anti-gun retired General David Petraeus—who was forced to resign as CIA director in 2012 after becoming embroiled in scandal—and the two have formed a new “astroturf” front group, Veterans Coalition for Common Sense (VCCS). The group has attracted a small handful of other retired generals—all political appointees—and have now penned a letter to House Republicans in Congress. In it, they ask lawmakers to oppose House Committee on Veteran Affairs chairman Phil Roe’s (R-Tenn.) Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act, designed to repeal the gun ban for military veterans, and encourage them to leave the current ban in place.
However, when it comes to actual rank-and-file military members, VCCS is unlikely to get much, if any, support. For one, the NRA and the armed forces have, based on their long history of shared interest in defending the Constitution, enjoyed a long and mutually beneficial relationship, and it seems unlikely that soldiers who know firsthand the lifesaving value of carrying a gun would buy into the propaganda pushed by VCCS stating that veterans should be stripped of their Second Amendment rights.
Secondly, due to the large number of individuals affected by this ban, it’s likely that many veterans have either been personally affected or know someone who has. As of December 2015, the VA had turned the names of more than 260,000 individuals over to the FBI—these individuals then became part of the National Instant Criminal Background Check system, effectively prohibiting them from purchasing a firearm.
In this way, the VA ban is similar to a ban put in place by then-President Barack Obama that denied Second Amendment rights to some recipients of Social Security. The VA ban and the SSA ban both operated under the (faulty) assumption that benefit recipients who had designated a “representative payee” were somehow mentally defective, and should be stripped of their rights at once. Neither doctor nor judge need be consulted in making this designation, nor did any crime or intent to commit a crime need to have occurred—simply the act of needing help balancing one’s checkbook was enough.
In the case of the VA ban, those who risk being impacted, as well as those who advocate for their rights, have even more to fear, as the VA ban is even more egregious than the repealed SSA ban. While the SSA ban did not apply to anyone over the age of 65, NRA-ILA stresses that for VA benefit recipients, the gun ban lasts a lifetime—unless the veteran is able to have his or her name removed from the roll of disability beneficiaries.
This policy stands to have a tremendously adverse effect on the health and well-being of our veterans: Imagine that you’re a veteran who loves to hunt and shoot. You don’t have trouble managing your finances, but you worry that if someday you do, you could permanently lose your right to defend yourself, your ability to put extra food on the table and one of your most cherished hobbies with the stroke of a pen. Would you seek treatment for PTSD, an eating disorder, depression? Or would you resign yourself to suffering, telling yourself it isn’t worth the risk and “tough it out”?
The denial of Second Amendment rights is made even worse by the lack of Due Process involved in the denial. While it would be a tremendous (not to mention unconstitutional) affront to any group of law-abiding citizens, stripping away rights without Due Process is especially egregious in the case of “vulnerable” military veterans. Many of these veterans have carried firearms overseas to fight for our freedom—shall we reward them by taking away their rights?
The NRA-ILA’s Chris W. Cox got to the heart of the matter when he pushed all the liberal, gun-grabbing jibberish from groups like the so-called Veterans Coalition for Common Sense aside and reminded everyone what the gun ban for military veterans is really all about. It is a ban for military personnel who require help with their finances.
Cox said, “Receiving assistance to handle personal finances does not mean an individual is unable to safely own a firearm. Our brave men and women in the military should not be stripped of their constitutional rights without due process of law.”
For that reason, anyone who supports and respects the contributions of our armed forces should be fighting just as hard—if not harder—against the VA ban as we did against the SSA ban. House Republicans repealed the Social Security gun ban, which was structured almost identically to the gun ban for military veterans. Now, with the proposal of the Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act, they have the opportunity to correct a grave injustice against our armed forces, as well. These brave men and women fought for our rights, now it’s time for us to fight for theirs. Don’t let the voices of anti-gunners such as Giffords, Kelly and Patraeus be the only ones they hear.
AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and host of Bullets with AWR Hawkins, a Breitbart News podcast. He is also the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.