UPDATE ON VETERANS’ GUN RIGHTS ISSUE

April 3, 2013 @

Our investigation into the plight of our military veterans and the assault on their Second and Fifth Amendment rights continues to uncover a disturbing pattern that confirms that the VA is violating the Constitutional rights of America’s heroes on a daily basis. The investigation included two separate requests to the VA under the federal Freedom of Information Act. We asked for the criteria used for appointing a fiduciary for veterans to handle their financial affairs and for information on the criteria for adding such veterans to the list of Americans ineligible to buy firearms. The legal deadline for a response from the VA has passed and our requests have been totally ignored. This does not surprise me because it is obvious that the VA has much to hide.

Between the information we are receiving from veterans around the country and our research of the law and history of the VA fiduciary program we have come up with a timeline of what has happened and is happening to our veterans. While the VA fiduciary program has been in place for years it was designed to appoint someone, usually a family member, to handle the VA payments for veterans who were unable to handle these financial matters themselves because of some type of severe mental problems such as dementia.

There have been problems with the system from the beginning, but the problems regarding the Second amendment rights of veterans are much more recent. In 1993 Congress passed the Brady Bill that mandated a national background check system that was designed to keep convicted felons and those individuals declared mentally defective and found to be a danger to themselves or others from being able to legally purchase firearms.

In 2007 the Congress passed some ill advised amendments to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The amendments were in response to the Virginia Tech shooting, (which did not involve a veteran) and were designed to make sure that people adjudicated to be “mentally defective” were on the list. However, the disqualification criteria remained the same, a person had to be found to be a danger to themselves or others or “lacks the mental capacity to contract or manage his own affairs.”

Since that amendment was adopted the VA has decided that all veterans that it declares “incompetent” to handle their VA payments are also ineligible to purchase or own firearms.  There is absolutely nothing in the NICS criteria that states that those with physical disabilities belong on the list of individuals prohibited from owning firearms, yet the VA specifically states in their letter to veterans that this is part of their criteria. In addition, our investigation has found that the VA is using reasons such as minor depression, minor PTSD, and even minor short term memory loss as grounds for declaring veterans “mentally defective.”  In some cases, the veterans are not even given a reason.

It has also become clear that there has been a rapid acceleration over the last few years in the efforts by the VA to declare veterans incompetent and deny them the right to possess firearms. Veterans who go to the VA for routine checkups or for treatment of physical illnesses are routinely asked if they own firearms. In fact, this in apparently a required question that all VA employees must ask of all veterans.

In other words, virtually anything can trigger an attempt by the VA to declare a veteran incompetent and deny them their Second Amendment rights. The Constitutional requirements of due process are completely ignored and veterans must fight this on their own at their own expense. To make matters even worse, we are receiving reports from veterans that if they even attempt to resist the declaration of incompetence, the VA is threatening to, and in some cases actually withholding the monetary payments to the veterans unless they agree to the VA declaration.

Our research has determined that there are at least four separate categories of veterans that the United States Justice Foundation needs to represent in either administrative actions or in court. They are:

1. Veterans who have received a letter from the VA threatening to declare them incompetent, but no decision on competence have been finalized.

2. Veterans who have received the letter and been declared incompetent and added to NICS list for unjust reasons.

3. Veterans who have been declared incompetent and had it reversed, but are still on the NICS list.

4. Veterans who have received the VA letter and are having their VA funds withheld because they are fighting to keep from being declared incompetent.

The situation with the veterans and their rights has not gone completely unnoticed in Congress. Last year an amendment was offered in the Senate to the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act to stop the VA from arbitrarily adding veterans to the NICS list. It was opposed by the White House and failed to pass. Just a few weeks ago Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina introduced S 572, the “Veterans Second Amendment Protection Act”. It is a good piece of legislation to protect veterans and all members of Congress should be urged to support it. Unfortunately, so far only 11 Senators have signed on as co-sponsors and none of them are Democrats.

In the meantime, any veterans with information on this or who need help should contact me immediately at usjf.net.

12 Comments → “UPDATE ON VETERANS’ GUN RIGHTS ISSUE”


  1. JIM.

    6 years ago

    Could you post a copy of one of the letters received by a Veteran from the VA. I would like to present this information to my American Legion Post.


  2. DGoban

    6 years ago

    Mr. Connelly, you are requesting the VA for the wrong information. You need to follow the money! What you and every veteran placed under the VA’s Fiduciary Program should do individually is ask for are the annual Financial Statements and/or Audits, if any, of the $3.1Billion of veterans’ money being held in trust, since the program’s inception. Also ask for the names of individuals and organizations, such as the VSO’s if any, who have been benefitting from the proceeds of the trust. If the VA cannot produce these public documents, then there should be enough grounds for a federal lawsuit against the VA or US Government. I’m sure, somewhere, there is an existing law that describes how a Trust should be lawfully managed, if not a law that describes the fiduciary responsibilities of the government in the management of federal funds. I’m sure the courts will listen to the argument that if the VA cannot properly manage the money in the Trust Fund itself, then it should be held “incompetent” to manage the veterans’ financial affairs. It is sort of the blind should not be allowed to lead the blind kind of argument.


  3. eddie seigle

    6 years ago

    thank-you for this information


  4. Deborah

    6 years ago

    I find it absolutely disgusting that one day we hear on the news that the VA can’t process disability claims because it does not have the resources and then the next thing you know they got the resource problem under control in order to keep the benefits and make claims of mental incompetency based on no real or legal findings. I am also wondering why the media refuses to cover this but will do specials on the VA needing more funding to process the overload of applications. No coverage has been given to why shelters or homes that have been donated to VA specifically for housing homeless veterans are being leased out to businesses for profit while the homeless vets sleep on the sidewalk of these donated properties. That in itself is a lawsuit. The question of the VA as a competent administration to dispense benefits is another. Individual rights to a fair hearing for a declaration of mental incompetency is another. Why does this WH Admin hate our vets so much?


  5. chris capehart

    6 years ago

    okay so it says the letter is persuant to the brady bill okay in the brady it says you must be adjudicated and found mentally defective so to me its not persuant to the brady bill


  6. dave huffman

    5 years ago

    I am one of the vets that the VA is not treating well. I have been called names by doctors and have been having aphysc doc refer me to a support group for druggies, for which I am not a druggie, I also am now into muscle atrophy and denied pain meds. The Cleveland Ohio VA system is making me out a bad guy and I have been sick for almost a year without proper treatment and respect.


  7. Dr. Charles W. Heckman

    5 years ago

    You are greatly understating the actions of the government against veterans since the Vietnam War. I served on active duty in the Air Force for 58 months and received an honorable discharge in 1968. During this time, I served for more than two years as a pilot in Vietnam, and also flew much time on temporary duty. Because of this service, I have been denied employment in the United States for about 45 years. My whole working life has been spent in foreign countries. I have had several lawsuits against United States agencies for employment discrimination and others against three universities. From what I have learned, veterans are being subjected to mass murder because our government does not want to pay the benefits it owes under the law. The Second Amendment violations are just another form of psychological warfare to undermine veterans’ health through stress. Most destitute and homeless veterans have no problems that many or most non-veterans do not also have, except discrimination whenever they attempt to find a job. I cannot expect to ever hold a job at an American college or university because of my war service, but I have taught graduate courses at German and Brazilian universities in the respective national languages and performed scientific research with grants from foreign sources. It has been noted by many observers that systematically denying a person a chance to earn a living is murder, and dictators, including Stalin and Mao, killed many millions of persons through slow starvation in this way. In 2005, Congressman Lane Evans selected my case for investigation and confirmed my allegations of discrimination against several federal agencies. He reported his findings to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Unfortunately, he left Congress for health reasons shortly later, and the agencies quickly dropped the matter. It is noteworthy that employees of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs are receiving large “merit bonuses” to reward them for denying or delaying the payment the destitute veterans need to survive, and those bonuses are paid out of the funds that they have left over in the budget each year.


  8. Gary Wells

    5 years ago

    So you are awhere the VA’s definition of what it meens to be incompitent is Very different than that of all other US enities. They deem that a veteran needs help with their VA finances and that this finding is not supposed to affect anything other than their VA finaces. To qoute the letter i recieved ” A mentally incompitent person is defined as one who, because of injury or disease, lacks the mental capacity to control or manage his or her own affairs, including disbursements of funds without limitation…. your physician has stated that you need someone to handle youre affairs.” To understand the evidemnce used it was one box checked on one form she submitted to the Medical record. It should also be noted that A SSA law judge made a decision of competency roughly 6 months after the VA finding. This has never been an issue of conflict because the VA admits that their definition of incompitency is different from the SSA.
    I see this as more of a 5th and 14th Amendment violation than a 2nd Amendment Amendment violation. You can look up each States definition of what it means to be found incompitent and the finding comes with MUCH more restrictions than does the VA findings


  9. Gary Wells

    5 years ago

    There are 3 things you must know about this rating
    1. Thejustificationn for a less restrictive use of this term is to ensure that the VA benefits are spent properly.
    2. The VA’fiduciaryry department can best be described as power hungry. Most do not like spousalefiduciaryrbecausese it take most of the control they have over the VA monies.
    3.Once this finding is made if a Veteran challenges the determination it gives the VA the right to reexamine all aspects of the diability rating.


  10. Gary Wells

    5 years ago

    This is the text of the letter i signed that told me i could no longer own or posses a firearm ” Under 18 USC. 922(g) and public law 103-159, the Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act, as implemented by the Bureau of Alcohol,Tobacco and Firearms regulation 27 CFR Part 478.32, those individuals found by VA to be incompetent to contract or handle their VA affairs are permanently prohibited from purchasing or redeeming firearms. A finding by the VA that you are incompetent will place you in this group who may not purchase firearms.”
    I may be wrong but to me this reads that the VA was expressly given this power by law. That is how i interpreted it when i first singed it.


  11. Matthew Tanous

    5 years ago

    I recently regained my competency by the VA and was allowed to manage my funds. I called the fiduciary branch and informed the VA of my new rating decision and asked that they remove me from the NICS list. they explained, they never add names to this list and that who ever told me this, i was wrong. I called the FBI and asked them how i remove my name. they explained, “we have many veterans calling us, asking the same question.” i was then told i had to call the VA to have them send a request to have my name removed. the FBI said they “were not allowed to release any information to me, even if my name is still the list due to privacy reasons… i am now getting the run around by both organizations.. the FBI told me the only way ill know if my name is still on the list is if i try and purchase a weapon again and if in fact im still on the list, i will be waisting DROS fees that are non-refundable and that would be the only way i could appeal to have my name removed.

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