Senate Democrats Refuse To Even Consider VA Gun-Ban Fix

posted on June 1, 2016
Chip Somodevilla / GettyImages

Less than two weeks before Memorial Day—when we commemorate and give thanks for the service and sacrifice millions of Americans have made to defend the freedoms we hold dear—Democrats in the U.S. Senate effectively spit on those veterans and the freedoms they gave their lives and limbs to defend.

On May 18, in a shameful display of partisan political game-playing, U.S. Senate Democrats led by gun-ban zealot U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., blocked an amendment to an appropriations bill that would have stopped the Veterans Administration from revoking the Second Amendment rights—and due process rights—of tens of thousands of U.S. veterans for no good reason. 

As we’ve reported here before, President Barack Obama’s Veterans Administration is now reporting the names of veterans and their survivors to the National Instant Check System (NICS), thus administratively defining them as “prohibited persons” who are barred by federal law from buying or possessing firearms, if they have been assigned a “fiduciary” to help them manage their financial affairs. “Some of these veterans may be suffering from a mental illness not serious enough to disqualify them from owning a firearm, but certainly many of them do.”— U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

Of course, this assignment of a fiduciary is not evidence of any wrongdoing by veterans. Having fiduciaries doesn’t mean that vets have been judged to be dangerous or a threat to themselves or anyone else. Nor does having a fiduciary necessarily mean that you’re a “mental defective,” which is the term used in the law to define those barred from buying or owning a gun. All it means is that you have someone assigned to help you with your financial affairs. 

So imposing a blanket ban on firearm ownership against every VA recipient who has a fiduciary is a blatant—and likely, unconstitutional—misapplication of the law, plainly intended to deny the Second Amendment rights of as many people as Obama can get away with.

As the Los Angeles Times has reported, Obama’s VA gun grab has netted the names of about 177,000 veterans and their survivors who have been denied their fundamental right to protect themselves simply through a stroke of Obama’s administrative pen. That’s wrong.  

No one wants dangerous, suicidal or mentally unstable vets to have firearms. That goes without saying. But this VA gun grab undoubtedly casts far too wide of a net, denying the right to keep and bear arms to countless military veterans who have not committed any crime, who are not dangerous, and who pose no threat to themselves or anyone else. 

To remedy the situation, on May 18, Republican U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, offered an amendment to the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill that would end the reporting of veterans to the NICS system unless they had been adjudicated to be dangerous to themselves or others. In other words, the amendment would have restored some measure of due process to veterans. 

As Grassley noted, “As of December 2015, almost 99 percent of names listed on the mental defective category for the National Criminal Instant Background Check System (NICS), otherwise known as the national gun-ban list, are from the VA.” “They’re obstructing a vote on protecting the fundamental constitutional rights of those who have put their lives on the line for our country. Shame on you.— U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa

And as Grassley succinctly summed it up, “Constitutional rights are being denied by a VA employee, maybe somebody that doesn’t know anything about mental health, and that is wrong, and that’s what we’re trying to prevent ...” 

Even the staunchly anti-gun Sen. Durbin admitted that the VA gun ban unfairly revokes the rights of too many vets. “I do not dispute,” Durbin said, “that some of these veterans may be suffering from a mental illness not serious enough to disqualify them from owning a firearm, but certainly many of them do.” Later in the same hearing, Durbin admitted, “Let me just concede at the outset, reporting 174,000 names to the FBI goes too far ...” 

Yet Durbin then turned around and led other Democrats on the committee to reject even debating Sen. Grassley’s much-needed reform. 

As Grassley noted, “I am somewhat disappointed that members on the other side of the aisle would object to even considering an amendment that simply protects veterans from having a fundamental, constitutional right taken away and doing it without due process ... Now they’re obstructing a vote on protecting the fundamental, constitutional rights of those who have put their lives on the line for our country. Shame on you ...” 

Indeed, shame on Durbin and the rest of the Democrats who torpedoed even considering this amendment. To think that they would deny essential constitutional freedoms to the very people who’ve risked their lives to protect those freedoms for everyone else is sad commentary on their sworn duty to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution.

And more than anything else, it should serve as fair warning—and more than enough reason—to get registered to vote and vote on Election Day this November.


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