WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Phil Roe, M.D. (R-TN), along with Reps. Brad Wenstrup, DPM (R-OH) and Mike Conaway (R-TX), introduced the Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act. This bill would prohibit VA from considering any beneficiary who is assisted by a fiduciary as “mentally defective” without a magistrate or judicial authority ruling that the beneficiary is a danger to themselves or others.
“The freedoms granted by the Constitution should apply to all Americans—especially the men and women who have been willing to risk their lives to protect those freedoms,” said Roe. “This commonsense bill would ensure no veteran or beneficiary is declared ‘mentally defective’ simply because they utilize a fiduciary.”
“For the men and women who have worn the uniform of this country to be denied the very constitutional freedoms that they fought for is unconscionable,” said Wenstrup. “Veterans shouldn’t be forced to choose between utilizing the resources they’ve earned at the VA and exercising their Second Amendment rights. As a veteran myself, I am honored to work with my colleagues, Chairman Roe and Congressman Conaway, to ensure no veteran is denied their constitutional rights due to bureaucratic overreach.”
“All too often, government bureaucracies fail the heroic men and women who have fought for our freedom,” said Conaway. “In this case, the same department that was created to help our veterans is taking away one of their most important constitutional rights: the right to bear arms. I’m glad to have Chairman Roe and Congressman Wenstrup on board with this important legislation to ensure that no veteran is wrongly denied their rights under the very Constitution they served to protect.”
Background: Under current practice, if a veteran or beneficiary is appointed a fiduciary from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), they are labeled as mentally incompetent in VA’s system, and the department automatically sends the veteran’s name to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Inclusion on the NICS list may prohibit the beneficiary from legally purchasing or owning a firearm. A beneficiary may apply for relief from the firearms prohibitions included in current policy, but that leaves a VA bureaucrat – not a magistrate or other judicial authority – with the power to determine whether or not relief is warranted.