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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.
BANGKOK (Reuters) - The United States and South Korea said on Sunday they will postpone upcoming military drills in an effort to bolster a stalled peace push with North Korea, even as Washington denied the move amounted to another concession to Pyongyang.
The drills, known as the Combined Flying Training Event, would have simulated air combat scenarios and involved an undisclosed number of warplanes from both the United States and South Korea.
An opening ceremony will be held Monday on Hawaii island for a military exercise with China that will involve about 100 People's Liberation Army soldiers training alongside U.S. Army counterparts.
This comes after Adm. Phil Davidson, head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, spoke on Veterans Day at Punchbowl cemetery about the "rules-based international order" that followed U.S. victory in the Pacific in World War II, and China's attempts to usurp it.
Those American standards "are even more important today," Davidson said, "as malicious actors like the Communist Party of China seek to redefine the international order through corruption, malign cyber activities, intellectual property theft, restriction of individual liberties, military coercion and the direct attempts to override other nations' sovereignty."
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday told North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to "act quickly" to reach a deal with the United States, in a tweet weighing in on North Korea's criticism of his political rival former Vice President Joe Biden.
Trump, who has met Kim three times since 2018 over ending the North's missile and nuclear programs, addressed Kim directly, referring to the one-party state's ruler as "Mr. Chairman".
In his tweet, Trump told Kim, "You should act quickly, get the deal done," and hinted at a further meeting, signing off "See you soon!"
It is impossible to tune out news about the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump now that the hearings have become public. And this means that cable news networks and Congress are happier than pigs in manure: this story will dominate the news for the foreseeable future unless Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt get back together.
But the wall-to-wall coverage of impeachment mania has also created a news desert. To those of you who would rather emigrate to North Korea than watch one more lawmaker grandstand for the cameras, I humbly offer you an oasis of news that has absolutely nothing to do with Washington intrigue.
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia will return three captured naval ships to Ukraine on Monday and is moving them to a handover location agreed with Kiev, Crimea's border guard service was cited as saying by Russian news agencies on Sunday.
A Reuters reporter in Crimea, which Russian annexed from Ukraine in 2014, earlier on Sunday saw coastguard boats pulling the three vessels through the Kerch Strait toward the Black Sea where they could potentially be handed over to Ukraine.