The VA and Gun Rights

Updated: December 7, 2012

By Mr. Twisted


Now that I have your attention…

Continuing on with the theme of Bob Costas’ douchebaggery, this one hits even closer to home on the subject of Veterans and their civil liberties. I am talking here about the new Defense Bill, which has a fight going due to the desire of a few politicians to, get this, protect Veterans’ rights by amending the bill.

The Department of Veterans Affairs, in all its glorious wisdom, believes in having the right to place the names of Veterans who are said to be of a certain mental state into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. This prevents anyone whose name is in the database from purchasing a firearm anywhere that conducts background checks. Furthermore, it prevents those who live under the same roof of that Veteran from owning or purchasing a firearm, as well. 

There are several layers worth of stupid to peel back on this one.

First, here’s the most common argument for this kind of legislation: “hey, I’m all for gun ownership, but if someone is ruled mentally incompetent, they shouldn’t be allowed that responsibility…” While that may seem reasonable on the surface, it’s a flawed premise for multiple reasons.

One, who judges whether a person is mentally incompetent or not? It’s one thing to have a trained psychiatrist make that claim; it’s entirely another for a counselor to put down “PTSD” on someone’s chart and have that end up in the bureaucratic black hole of the VA—a system that can’t process your claim in any reasonable amount of time but you can bet your ass they will fast-track your file to a background investigation unit.

Two, if a person is ruled incompetent by a psychiatrist, shouldn’t he or she, perhaps, just maybe, have a say in it? We have these things called “courts” you see…

That is exactly what Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) is fighting for currently. He wants Veterans to have their day in court before their “fundamental right given under the Constitution” is taken away, and is proposing amendments to the Defense Bill providing for that very thing.

But that’s not how things are now. Under the current system, a Veteran can lose their right to own a firearm simply by receiving a PTSD diagnosis and having it handed over to the BATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms) or their name placed in the national criminal database. And therein lays the bigger issue in this topic that needs to be addressed.

I don’t care how psychologically troubled a veteran is; I don’t care if they can’t tie their own shoes anymore; I don’t care if they can’t pay their own bills; I don’t care if they can’t feed themselves; I don’t care if they are being fed from a tube or if they are in a wheel chair:


This, my friends, is why any discussion on this topic is completely flawed from the beginning—the very fact that there is a “criminal database” that someone’s name would go into prior to them ever committing a crime is demonstrably wrong on both the ethical and Civil Rights levels of government. The idea that a Veteran—someone who has sacrificed for their country—would be labeled as a criminal for doing nothing other than that sacrifice is an injustice, to be sure. Yet somehow, when concerning the topic of the Second Amendment, that injustice is seen as perfectly reasonable.

Well, it’s not. Stop and consider this scenario: let’s say you come back from Iraq or Afghanistan and, after reporting having trouble sleeping to a few counselors and that you’ve had more than a few bottles of whiskey, you have a “PTSD” label on your packet and it is forwarded on to a database. Fast forward a couple months and, as your life has had some new changes in it, you decide to stop attending the church of which you are currently a member. Upon that declaration, a couple of suits show up at your door and say “sorry, we can’t let you stop going to this church. You’re not mentally capable of making that decision, due to your PTSD diagnosis.”

Sound ridiculous? It should, but here’s the kicker…it’s no more or less absurd than doing the same thing with Second Amendment liberties as opposed to those outlined in the First Amendment. Yet, that’s exactly what passes for “reasonable” in this country. If there’s an attack on free speech or if the government even hints at endorsing a particular religion, the ACLU and any number of other organizations will run a full-on Blitzkrieg-style operation against the perpetrators; if it’s against gun rights, well… it’s for the sake of the children!

It does not take a legal scholar to have a fundamental understanding of what the Second Amendment was designed for and a fairly solid knowledge of case law surrounding the right as it pertains to individuals. Rest assured, we have fallen a long way from that concept; especially if those who have paid a price of blood and sweat to defend it are forced to give it away for the rest of their lives simply due to bureaucrats’ definition of what is “reasonable.” Making matters worse is the fact that families of Veterans have their rights trampled on, as well.

The VA, lest you think there is any hope that theirs is a logically defensible position, defended their stance by stating that a Veteran can appeal the decision regarding their rights and petition to have them restored. Oh, well in that case, I totally understand…

You have got to be kidding me. I’m guessing there are a solid percentage of people reading this who have dealt with or are currently dealing with submitting a claim to the VA. How long have you been at it? How would you feel if you were presumed guilty, labeled a criminal, and then told you could “petition” to have your rights restored by an agency that moves with the speed of a three-toed tree sloth, all over something you were never even given a day in court for?

I can—and often will—go on at great lengths regarding this subject, as it has the potential to travel down a number of paths. However, what is important to remember here are two primary things:

1)     As it stands now, the current system has Vets (as well as their family members) being labeled as criminals simply based on the recordings of the VA. This must stop, and the only way to do so is to stand behind people like Senator Tom Coburn and put pressure on others to support him, as well.

2)     This argument doesn’t go away by making claims about whether guns are or are not safe. That is irrelevant. What is most certainly relevant is that the Second Amendment be viewed as equal to the First, Third, and the remaining Amendments in the Bill of Rights.

The VA is full of doucheyness, as we can all attest. They’re slow, inept, and in some cases cause more harm than good.

That being said, they are all we have for being taken care of in terms of disabilities and injuries incurred while in service to our country. Because of this, we can’t just kick them to the curb when they behave like a nanny state organization—we must work to enact change within their system. That is accomplished through the power of your representatives.

Get active; give them a call and let them know where you stand on this. The fact that a Veteran can be placed into a criminal database without ever being convicted of a crime is unacceptable on many levels, but this starts with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Make your voices heard. Tell your representatives to support bills like the one Senator Coburn is proposing to protect Veteran’s rights.





  1. Patrick Arneault

    December 7, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    Mentally Damaged Politicians are the most dangerous of all! These guys need fired!

  2. Settles

    December 7, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    Another unintended consequence could also be that guys who actually have PTSD (or any other emotional problems) will not seek treatment out of fear of being labeled “Criminal” or whatever. So now you have guys who genuinely need medical help not seeking it out. What affect will this have on the number or suicides, drug/alcohol dependence, divorces,etc.? This whole thing stinks on ice.

  3. Paul

    December 7, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    As settles noted, this affect more than just gun purchases. This will also affect a security clearance. They just went through this whole thing saying if you have PTSD it won’t affect your clearnce or promotion potential and then do a bone headed thing like this. The first thing a investigator does is run your name and social through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. When that pops hot and your are in a re-investigation they yank your clearance fast ,then try to find out why. So during that time you are unemployed, your bills are piling up, wife taking the kids to live her mother. All becasue you went to the Vet Center about some nightmares.

  4. Doc Murray

    December 7, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    I actually put off getting treatment because I had read about these proposals on the state level. THis troubled me for a variety of reason:

    1. IT is our right keep and bear these arms.



    4. I work with LOCAL CIRT teams as a medic and I would loose the ability to carry to protect myself

    5. When my wife lost her job, I steped up my teaching shooting classes as a way to cover the gap in pay.

    Now I am not in as bad away as alot of guys are. But what if I was? I would loose the ability defend myself and my family, provide an extra source of income, serve my community, the list goes on. Now think about this. If this were to pass, it would set a legal precedent. Our names on that list would most likely show up on a back ground check. So kiss jobs good by. Never Mind this is a massive violation of Hippa and our personal privacy.

  5. Justin W.

    December 7, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    Idiotic attempts like this actually do more harm than just violating Constitutional rights. Now soldiers – who already have a hard enough time to open up and get help in dealing with their demons – are going to be less inclined to seek help in fear of being slapped with an “unstable” label and black listed by the country they served and defended.

    • Mr. Twisted

      December 7, 2012 at 4:31 pm


      I’m not disagreeing with you, but just to clarify something: you stated that Vets “are going to be less inclined…” implying that this is a new thing that the VA is doing; it’s not. The VA has already been placing thousands of names of Vets into the criminal database system–Sen. Tom Coburn was trying to add an amendment to the new defense bill that would change the current procedure and give Vets a day in court to fight it.

      As it stands now–and this is how it has been for a couple years, to my understanding–the VA rules on a Vet, that Vet is placed into the database, thereby presuming guilt and is forced to then attempt to prove their innocence by way of appeal. They start out guilty and then have to fight the system to change that.

      Again, this is not to disagree with what you’re saying, but rather to clarify that this is how it is now–not how it is going to be.

  6. Erik the Red

    December 7, 2012 at 2:24 pm


    Follow the link, find your state, find your Senator and House Reps and call them to let them know how you feel about this and that you want them to stand with Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) on fixing and removing this heinous assault on the small percent of American citizens that sacrificed, are sacrificing, and will sacrifice in the future.

  7. Dutch

    December 7, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    So what happens when vets clam up about their issues for fear legal recourse? Alcoholism? Depression? Suicide? This is just one more unneeded stigma standing in the way of getting us healed and healthy.

  8. MacPointMan

    December 8, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    While eating in the DFAC here in Kandahar the other day this article was on the front page of the Stars and Stripes along with another regarding service members and their gun rights. For those that do not know the Stars and Stripes is the news paper that we get here overseas.

    This infuriates me to no end.


    To my Infantry Brothers. Be careful when going to the VA. Your PTSD diagnosis just might get your right to Purchase, Own, Carry, and Utilize a firearm stripped.

    To my Brothers and sisters in the Signal Corps and the rest of the military this should stand as a word of warning. If you are diagnosed with PTSD by the VA this could happen to you.

    Your PTSD only makes you stronger not weaker. It does not mean you have a disability or a disorder. It means you have experienced things no other human being should. This is as result of your service and sacrifice to your country so that your countrymen don’t have to. We build upon these experiences and become better people from them. We learn how to process and continue on living and we learn how to make it a strength.

    Service members WE MUST support each other. We must be there for each other. We must listen and assist when it is needed. We must lend a helpful friendly hand when required. WE ABSOLUTELY MUST REMEMBER WE NEVER LEAVE A FALLEN COMRADE! We are all Brothers and Sisters, We served, We sacrificed, and as a result WE understand better than anyone else what it means and the issues that we have and how to overcome them.

    We are family.

    If you can’t turn to family for help who can you turn to. It is not easy having your best friend crying on your shoulder because he knows you understand his pain. He is my best friend and I’ll gladly be there for him. It is not convenient to drop what you are doing and go over to a buddies house and sit with him and just talk and listen after you have had a long day at work. It isn’t affordable sometimes to give your last few bucks to the member of your unit to help him pay his rent, groceries, light bill etc. because he lost his job after your most recent deployment. Sometimes it is hard to find the time to help your brother fix his car because he can’t afford to have the mechanic do it for him. We have got to do this and more so much more.

    Though we must and I stress MUST ensure that our Brothers and Sisters in arms know and understand that there is hope. We are here for them. It is ok to ask for help if you need it.

    To my family and Friends. I say THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart. The past couple of years has been really rough on myself and my family. Things are getting better slowly but we are getting there. I have my Wife, Mom and Dad, close family friends, and my brothers and sisters in arms to thank for helping in my time of need.




  9. Dan baker

    January 19, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    In the nineties I was a part of a custody case. The legal guardian never interviewed me,but when she testified she stated that I was a danger to the children because I had been diagnosed with PTSD. I had been a cop for twenty years and that meant nothing . The children said they loved me and that I was great to them,but none of it mattered.I had PTSD and that made me dangerous They will use the same illogical reasoning because they are afraid of us . We have always been their enemy and this is their opportunity to neutralize us!

  10. David Williamson

    January 20, 2013 at 8:34 pm

    I have a diagnosis of PCSD (Post Combat Stress Disorder) as I like to call it not PTSD. Anyway I tried to buy a shotgun and was turned down for ownership by the TFA and FBI because of this diagnosis. Did 2 tours in Vietnam with the Infantry of the 101st Airborne and now I am a criminal. Well ain’t that just peachy keen. 40 plus years later and I am a “bad” because I served my country with HONOR. Most of the Washington Government are criminals. Just my opinion

    • P.Pennington

      February 1, 2013 at 2:16 pm

      I feel your pain bro.I was barred re-enlistment,flagged from ownin a gun,and just about lost my home because of a PTSD moment I had over 20 years ago.I haven’t had a episode like that in a L-O-N-G time so WTF???? Am I gonna be on someones radar for many more years or what?

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