Bob Owens

The saddest truth in politics is that people get the leaders they deserve

Don’t beleive the hype on the VA letter summarily denying vets gun rights

Written By: Bob - Feb• 22•13

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.

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26 Comments

  1. AliceH says:

    Is it typical to be given 60 days to formally request a hearing, else no hearing will be held?

    I wasn’t aware we needed to “opt in” to due process.

    • 1972Patriot says:

      @AliceH poses the same question that came to my mind.

    • Juan Grande says:

      Notice and opportunity to be heard, call it opt-in if you want. What do yo propose, scheduling a hearing for everyone whether they want it or not?

      • shawn says:

        Well yeah you mean like actually charge someone and go through the steps to prove your case first, instead of just giving individuals the power to strip rights then make an individual have to go through the costly and time consuming process of proving themselves innocent of said charges? And this article is a opion based aparently on some prior dealings with the process, how do they explain that Obama actually in one of the executive orders he signed into law like a king, required the VA to turn over the confidential records of veterans to be scrutinized by a politically motivated process instead of leaving it in the doctors hands, they have always had the opportunity to declare an individual dangerous and start this process’s this is Hitler style government overstep at its finest. Taking the decision process from doctors and giving it to bureaucracy.

  2. Comrade X says:

    “In this segment of his Virtual State of the Union, the Virtual President talks about why politicians want to talk about gun control rather than crime control, and delivers the factual evidence and historical truths that make the case for the Second Amendment….

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_T-F_zfoDqI&feature=player_embedded

    Death before slavery!

  3. Donald Arey III says:

    Thank you very much for clearing this up! I saw it yesterday, got a little worried, but decided to just wait and see if it was a bunch of hysterical BS. Turns out it is.

    I don’t yet own a gun and don’t really think I can afford one anyway in my financial situation but I was ready to be upset about being denied the right. It’s tough enough already in MA.

  4. mtclem says:

    Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty? Why should they have to go to anyone in the government to have their “rights” restored? What rock are you living under?

    • Bob says:

      Read the letter. This is the notification that a hearing will take place. And it lays out the due process stuff. If you are adjudged incompetent, THEN it goes to NICS. But even then you can apply to have your name removed from the NICS, if you can show you aren’t a threat to others or yourself.

      • AliceH says:

        I read the letter. This is notification that you have 60 days to REQUEST a hearing or submit evidence for consideration. If you don’t request a hearing, none will be held – but a decision will be adjudicated.

        Furthermore, the letter refers to evidence (a “report”) suggesting the need to review financial incompetency, but that in itself is separate and different than the process and criteria to justify adding a name to NICS.

  5. William Wayman says:

    So let me get this correct the V.A alone will dicide your incompetency; just based on a determination by someone you will lose your rights. And its up to the Veteran to prove he is competent in court to get his rights back. But you would push this is not infrengment at all correct horse pucky is what I say.

  6. Hank says:

    I have long ago learned to distrust the government’s benevolent intentions and expect the worst.

    I have rarely been wrong to do so.

    How long before this becomes a provision of ObamaCare?

    Check off “yes I own a gun” on the ObamaCare questionnaire and then tell your doctor you’re feeling depressed and suicidal. After he submits the treatment code into the system, wait and see what happens next.

  7. Rob Crawford says:

    I do say I’m sympathetic to the guy with T-Rex problems.

    • Dick says:

      And here I was thinking I was the only guy with a T-Rex issue…
      Oh, Thanks, Bob for cleaning it up. Sounded a bit fishy to begin with.

  8. TyreByter says:

    This isn’t the first story like this. Isn’t it sad that most believe that it’s plausible the government would sendout blanket forms like this? After all, vets are listed by Homeland Security as potential domestic terrorists, along with tea partiers, gun owners, preppers, etc.

    • Bob says:

      They aren’t sending out “blanket forms.” This apparently affects a few hundred to a few thousand veterans out of millions.

  9. The VA drone says:

    Bob – you touche don a bit of the truth – but not the entire truth. ANY veteran that has a designated payee gets the shaft. That includes those that have a temporary payee because of physical disability during their hospitalization. And that’s not a temporary shaft in their case – they too must go through the appeals process.

  10. Samuel Melton says:

    The amount of people it affects is pointless. The constitution states a “judge” has to find the person incompetant. So, if one vet has this problem, we all do.

  11. DontTreadOnME says:

    Bob, you miss a very important point. Due Process MUST take place BEFORE a person is found to be mentally incompetent. Our Rights are not something a letter from the VA can remove, then promise a Due Process hearing to get them restored.

  12. D-lo says:

    Camels nose, meet Mr. slippery slope

  13. Henry Bowman says:

    Hm. Let’s see. The government will remove the right on the say-so of a family member, whereupon the veteran has to exercise full due process to get his right back.

    Say, does any part of that seem backwards to you?

    DENIAL of a person’s rights should require the due process, and the burden should be on the DENIER, not the other way around.

  14. Larry Hardison says:

    I am the recipent of one of the V A’s letters proposing to declare me incompetent. Their reasoning hinges on two points: First, since I had a stroke in 2002 causing me to have absence seizures. The V A latched on to this and said my seizures were epilepsy. Not true! My absence seizures were treated by a neurologist. Since taking the medicine I have not had a seizure in years and certainly am not an epileptic!

    I had a VA Compensation and Pension examination several months ago, and that is where the seizure B.S. came from. Also, the Dr. asked me if I handled our finances. I told him my wife does it all. He may have assumed I couldn’t do it, but actually my wife has taken care of the finances since we got married 43 years ago. I was working many hours and she was a stay at home wife. it was a matter of convience, that was the only reason.

    I have turned this matter over to my VFW Veteran Service Officer along with some letters of support from my VFW Post Commander and my VFW District Commander. I am very active in the VFW at the post level and at the district level (responsible for 23 VFW posts), and have been informed I am getting an award for being the Outstanding VFW District Officer in the state. I’m not bragging but it seems to me if I can do the job correctly how can I be incompetent.

  15. Red says:

    Hey BOB- How misleading were Diane Feinstein’s comments 3-7-13 that retired service members “may” be suffering from PTSD, an Iraq war based ailment she claims, so x-service members should not be exempt from her gun ban bill? Can you twist her words away from her intent so that 22 million service members do not think she is insane? Do you STILL stand by your conclusions that our government has no intention of taking away god given rights of servicemen? I guess its all just a coincidence…..