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Congress Tries Again To Restore Gun Rights To Veterans With Caretakers
A group of bipartisan senators want to reverse a longstanding federal policy that prevents veterans from owning firearms if someone else is handling their personal finances.
Since 1998, any vet who was assigned a fiduciary by the Department of Veterans Affairs to handle their money matters has been reported to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) as “mentally incompetent,” barring them from purchasing firearms. As of 2016, 167,815 vets’ names had been added to this database since the policy went into effect.
That’s not right, says Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa. Along with fellow Iowa Republican Sen. Joni Ernst and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Grassley is sponsoring a fix, called the “Veterans’ Second Amendment Rights Restoration Act of 2018,” that would give gun-buying rights to more vets with fiduciaries.
“Veterans are losing their Second Amendment rights because they have someone managing their checkbook,” Grassley said on the Senate floor, Tuesday. “It's that simple: You can't handle your finances, you lose your Second Amendment right.”
If passed, the law would allow a vet with a VA-assigned fiduciary to keep his or her gun-buying rights unless a court officially deams the veteran a danger to him or herself or others. The VA would have to submit individual cases to a three-person board comprised of state, federal, or administrative law judges, who would make the final determination on the vet’s fitness to own a firearm.
“When a constitutional right is involved, the burden must always be on the government,” Grassley said.
Critics of the proposal — which has bounced around for years — say it runs counter to the statistics on veterans and suicides by gun.
“With more than 20 veterans dying by suicide per day, the vast majority by firearm, today’s legislation would make it easier, not harder, for those veterans in crisis to get access to a firearm,” Rep. Elizabeth Esty, a Massachusetts Democrat, told Military.com last year when the bill was introduced in the House.
As Task & Purpose’s Adam Weinstein reported in March 2017, of the 167,000 or so vets on the no-buy list, roughly 19,500 had a diagnosis of schizophrenia; more than 15,000 suffered from post traumatic stress; 11,084 had dementia; 5,462 had Alzheimer’s; and 3,981 had depression. By the VA’s own estimates, on average, 6 of 20 vets who die by suicide received benefits from the department; numerous academic studies have determined that the availability of a firearm is a key factor in suicide rates.
“This bill would set a nearly impossible standard for the VA to prevent a veteran who is at risk of harming themselves or others from purchasing a gun,” Etsy said.
If passed into law, the bill wouldn’t automatically remove those who are currently in the FBI’s database, but vets with an active file would be able to challenge their classification under the new system.
More than 7,500 boots on display at Fort Bragg this month served as a temporary memorial to service members from all branches who have died since 9/11.
The boots — which had the service members' photos and dates of death — were on display for Fort Bragg's Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation's annual Run, Honor and Remember 5k on May 18 and for the 82nd Airborne Division's run that kicked off All American Week.
"It shows the families the service members are still remembered, honored and not forgotten," said Charlotte Watson, program manager of Fort Bragg's Survivor Outreach Services.
After more than a decade of research and development and upwards of $500 million in funding, the Navy finally plans on testing its much-hyped electromagnetic railgun on a surface warship in a major milestone for the beleaguered weapons system, Navy documents reveal.
The Navy's latest Northwest Training and Testing draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Assessment (NWTT EIS/OEIS), first detailed by the Seattle Times on Friday, reveals that " the kinetic energy weapon (commonly referred to as the rail gun) will be tested aboard surface vessels, firing explosive and non-explosive projectiles at air- or sea-based targets."
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Congress fell short ahead of Memorial Day weekend, failing to pass legislation that would provide tax relief for the families of military personnel killed during their service.
Senators unanimously approved a version of the bipartisan Gold Star Family Tax Relief Act Tuesday sending it back to the House of Representatives, where it was tied to a retirement savings bill as an amendment, and passed Thursday.
When it got back to the Senate, the larger piece of legislation failed to pass and make its way to the President Trump's desk.
An NSA cyber weapon is reportedly being used against American cities by the very adversaries it was meant to target
In less than three years after the National Security Agency found itself subject to an unprecedentedly catastrophic hacking episode, one of the agency's most powerful cyber weapons is reportedly being turned against American cities with alarming frequency by the very foreign hackers it was once intended to counter.
The spectacle of hundreds of thousands of motorcycles roaring their way through the streets of Washington, D.C., to Memorial Day events as part of the annual Rolling Thunder veterans tribute will be a thing of the past after this coming weekend.
Former Army Sgt. Artie Muller, a 73-year-old Vietnam veteran and co-founder of Rolling Thunder, said the logistics and costs of staging the event for Memorial Day, which falls on May 27 this year, were getting too out of hand to continue. The ride had become a tradition in D.C. since the first in 1988.
"It's just a lot of money," said the plainspoken Muller, who laced an interview with a few epithets of regret over having to shut down Rolling Thunder.