10.13.11

Burr, Webb Introduce Veterans Second Amendment Protection Act

Legislation would end arbitrary process that strips veterans of rights

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Jim Webb (D-VA), along with 10 other cosponsors, introduced legislation that would end the arbitrary process through which the government strips veterans and other Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) beneficiaries of their Second Amendment rights. Currently, veterans who have a fiduciary appointed to act on their behalf are deemed "mentally defective" and are reported to the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), a system which prevents them from being able to purchase firearms in the United States. The Veterans Second Amendment Protection Act would require a judicial authority to determine that VA beneficiaries pose a danger to themselves or others before they can be added to the FBI's NICS.

"Taking away a Constitutional right is a serious action, and veterans should be afforded the same due process under the law as all other American citizens," Burr said. "This legislation would protect the rights of veterans and their families by ensuring that only a proper judicial authority is able to determine who is referred to NICS. Our veterans took an oath to uphold the Constitution and they deserve to enjoy the rights they fought so hard to protect."

"As a matter of fairness, a veteran should be permitted to purchase a firearm under the same conditions as every other American," said Senator Webb. "This bipartisan bill ensures consistent guidelines are used for reporting citizens to the FBI, and that no veteran is needlessly stripped of their Second Amendment rights."

The Federal Gun Control Act prohibits certain individuals who have been deemed a "mental defective" from purchasing a firearm. Currently, around 114,000 people who are receiving VA benefits have been reported to NICS, stripping them of their constitutional rights simply because VA appointed a fiduciary to act on their behalf. A fiduciary is assigned to handle disability compensation, pensions, survivors' compensation, and other VA payments on behalf of a veteran, surviving spouse, dependent child, or dependent parent. VA's review process for assigning a fiduciary is meant to determine one's ability to manage VA-provided cash assistance. The process does not determine whether they are a danger to themselves or others.