by Larry Pratt
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- (Official Wire) -- 09/22/07 -- Hundreds of thousands of
veterans—from Vietnam through Operation Iraqi Freedom—are at risk of
being banned from buying firearms if legislation that is pending in
Congress gets enacted.
How? The Veterans Disarmament Act—which has already passed the
House—would place any veteran who has ever been diagnosed with Post
Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) on the federal gun ban list.
is exactly what President Bill Clinton did over seven years ago when his
administration illegitimately added some 83,000 veterans into the National
Criminal Information System (NICS system)—prohibiting them from
purchasing firearms, simply because of afflictions like PTSD.
The proposed ban is actually broader. Anyone who is diagnosed as being a
tiny danger to himself or others would have his gun rights taken away ...
forever. It is section 102(b)(1)(C)(iv) in HR 2640 that provides for
dumping raw medical records into the system. Those names—like the 83,000
records mentioned above—will then, by law, serve as the basis for gun
No wonder the Military Order of the Purple Heart is opposed to this
The House bill, HR 2640, is being sponsored by one of the most flaming
anti-Second Amendment Representatives in Congress: Carolyn McCarthy
(D-NY). Another liberal anti-gunner, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), is
sponsoring the bill in the Senate.
Proponents of the bill say that helpful amendments have been made so that
any veteran who gets his name on the NICS list can seek an expungement.
But whenever you talk about expunging names from the Brady NICS system,
you’re talking about a procedure that has always been a long shot. Right
now, there are NO EXPUNGEMENTS of law-abiding Americans’ names that are
taking place under federal level. Why? Because the expungement process
which already exists has been blocked for over a decade by a "funds
cut-off" engineered by another anti-gunner, Sen. Charles Schumer
So how will this bill make things even worse? Well, two legal terms are
radically redefined in the Veterans Disarmament Act to carry out this
vicious attack on veterans’ gun rights.
One term relates to who is classified a "mental defective."
Forty years ago that term meant one was adjudicated "not guilty"
in a court of law by reason of insanity. But under the Veterans
Disarmament Act, "mental defective" has been stretched to
include anyone whom a psychiatrist determines might be a tiny danger to
self or others.
The second term is "adjudicate." In the past, one could only
lose one's gun rights through an adjudication by a judge, magistrate or
court—meaning conviction after a trial. Adjudication could only occur in
a court with all the protections of due process, including the right to
face one's accuser. Now, adjudication in HR 2640 would include a finding
by "a court, commission, committee or other authorized person"
(namely, a psychiatrist).
Forget the fact that people with PTSD have the same violent crime rate as
the rest of us. Vietnam vets with PTSD have had careers and obtained
permits to carry firearms concealed. It will now be enough for a
psychiatric diagnosis (a "determination" in the language of the
bill) to get a veteran barred for life from owning guns.
Think of what this bill would do to veterans. If a robber grabs your
wallet and takes everything in it, but gives you back $5 to take the bus
home, would you call that a financial enhancement? If not, then we should
not let HR 2640 supporters call the permission to seek an expungement an
enhancement, when prior to this bill, veterans could not legitimately be
denied their gun rights after being diagnosed with PTSD.
Veterans with PTSD should not be put in a position to seek an expungement.
They have not been convicted (after a trial with due process) of doing
anything wrong. If a veteran is thought to be a threat to self or others,
there should be a real trial, not an opinion (called a diagnosis) by a
If members of Congress do not hear from soldiers (active duty and retired)
in large numbers, along with the rest of the public, the Veterans
Disarmament Act—misleadingly titled by Rep. McCarthy as the NICS
Improvement Amendments Act—will send this message to veterans: "No
good deed goes unpunished."
has been Executive Director of Gun Owners of America for 27 years. GOA is
a national membership organization of 300,000 Americans dedicated to
promoting their second amendment freedom to keep and bear arms. He
published a book, Armed People Victorious, in 1990 and was editor of a
book, Safeguarding Liberty: The Constitution & Militias, 1995. His
latest book, On the Firing Line: Essays in the Defense of Liberty was
published in 2001. The GOA web site is: gunowners.org. Pratt's weekly talk
show Live Fire is archived there at: www.GunOwners.org.
Either Pratt or another GOA spokesman is available for press interviews.
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