I read the claim yesterday as it floated around the internet:
How would you feel if you received a letter from the U.S. Government informing you that because of a physical or mental condition that the government says you have it is proposing to rule that you are incompetent to handle your own financial affairs? Suppose that letter also stated that the government is going to appoint a stranger to handle your affairs for you at your expense? That would certainly be scary enough but it gets worse.
What if that letter also stated: “A determination of incompetency will prohibit you from purchasing, possessing, receiving, or transporting a firearm or ammunition. If you knowingly violate any of these prohibitions, you may be fined, imprisoned, or both pursuant to the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, Pub.L.No. 103-159, as implemented at 18, United States Code 924(a)(2).”?
That makes is sound like something right from a documentary on a tyrannical dictatorship somewhere in the world. Yet, as I write this I have a copy of such a letter right in front of me. It is being sent by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of America’s heroes. In my capacity as Executive Director of the United States Justice Foundation (USJF) I have been contacted by some of these veterans and the stories I am getting are appalling.
I have no idea who Michael Connelly is, but I can tell you this: his story is misleading at best, and purposeful fear-mongering at worst.
Connelly lays this out in such a way that the average person reading this gets the impression that the VA is arbitrarily sending letters to unsuspecting veterans that they’ve lost their 2nd Amendment rights because someone in far away Washington summarily checked a box on a whim. It is portrayed as a bolt from the blue, affecting a large percentage of veterans.
What is really going on is that if a veteran is having financial problems, someone, usually his immediate family, can request for his benefits to be placed in guardianship. It allows the VA to pay the family so that they can handle a disabled vet’s finances and get his bills paid. When a veteran’s affairs are placed in guardianship, then this provision kicks in.
This doesn’t happen to someone just because they went into combat, or if they have some level of PTSD, or if they have a head injury. This generally applies to folks that are seriously mentally compromised. It applies to guys who are, as one veteran’s expert informed me this morning:
“…either comatose, make poor life decisions, spend their VA check on drugs, or (like the guy I once represented) were pissed off that the T-Rex in the back yard was eating his vegetables.”
Now, what happens if someone is placed on this list who feels he doesn’t deserve it? They can get a hearing, provide evidence, etc. and get their day in court to have their Second Amendment rights restored via due process.
Now, is this an ideal and perfect process? Of course not. It has humans involved in trying to figured out the messy workings of someone else’s gray matter, and that is an iffy proposition that MDs and PhDs that work directly with patients for years still get wrong from time to time.
But it’s a far cry from what people are choosing to read into this, which is that the VA is arbitrarily disarming vets on a whim.