Bill seeks to protect gun ownership for vets
By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Mar 24, 2009 20:48:10 EDT
Sens. Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Jim Webb, D-Va., have joined forces to try to prevent veterans from losing the right to own a gun if a fiduciary is appointed to handle their finances.
Burr and Webb, both members of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, are trying to carve out a loophole for veterans in the Federal Gun Control Act that prohibits the sale of firearms to people who are, in the words of the law, “adjudicated as a mental defective.”
According to Burr, the names of about 116,000 veterans have been turned over to the FBI since 1999 because the Veterans Affairs Department assigned a fiduciary to manage their benefits. That is not the same thing as being a danger to themselves or others, Burr said in a statement included in Monday’s Congressional Record when he introduced a bill, S 669, to prevent the VA from reporting the names of veteran to the FBI.
“VA focuses on whether or not benefits paid by VA will be spent in the manner in which they were intended,” Burr said. “Nothing involved with VA’s appointment of a fiduciary even gets at the question of whether an individual is a danger to themselves or others, or whether the person should own a firearm.”
The bill, the Veterans Second Amendment Protection Act, was referred to the veterans committee for consideration.
Veterans are not the only ones affected, he said. A surviving spouse or child of a veteran might also have a fiduciary appointed if VA is concerned about their financial responsibility. In the case of a child, their name could be permanently on the list unless they petition for its removal, he said. “This makes no sense.”
Burr said the law is unfair because while the names of veterans and people receiving veterans benefits are reported to the FBI for inclusion in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System used by gun shop owners to screen buyers, the Social Security Administration is not required to turn over the names of any Social Security recipients who have someone appointed to handle their finances.
Burr said he isn’t trying to put guns in the hands of dangerous people but wants veterans treated fairly.
Webb is the only Democratic cosponsor of the bill, which has 14 Republican cosponsors. The American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and other major veterans groups support the bill.