Congress poised to roll back ‘veteran gun ban,’ with reluctant Biden backing

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A Department of Veterans Affairs policy that Second Amendment advocates call a “veteran gun ban” likely won’t get funded in the new spending bill — to the chagrin of the Biden administration, which supports the broader omnibus but criticized the provision and vowed to find other ways to keep guns away from “those who shouldn’t have them.”

The VA currently sends the names of veterans deemed unable to manage their VA financial benefits to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, also known as NICS.

“The VA is acting totally unconstitutional in this veteran de-armament process. This is illegal, unconstitutional and should have never been done,” Aidan Johnston, director of federal affairs for Gun Owners of America, told Fox News Digital. 

The GOA lobbied Congress to defund the policy in the near term, and asked supporters to contact their members of Congress to “repeal the veteran gun ban,” which it said has already “disarmed 250,000 Americans.”

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“These are not adjudicated cases,” Johnston added. “These are not insane veterans. These are people who have had trouble with their health or might need someone to manage their finances.”

Although the VA has defended the program partly as having the capacity to prevent veteran suicide, Johnston said it’s counterproductive because veterans will resist seeking counseling for mental health if they face any sanction. 

“This contributes to veteran suicide as they will be reluctant to seek care at the VA,” Johnston said. “The VA is stigmatizing mental health.”

He warned if a federal agency can do this to veterans, a federal agency could disarm any other Americans who talked to a therapist or is designated unable to manage his or her finances. 

Department of Veterans' Affairs

In a statement of administration policy, the White House endorsed the larger omnibus bill but criticized the measure regarding veterans and firearms. 

“While the administration is pleased that hundreds of poison pill provisions and extreme funding cuts were rejected, the administration opposes the language included in the bill that would potentially undermine the ability of the Veterans’ Affairs Department to report a beneficiary to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System to keep guns out of the hands of those prohibited under federal law from purchasing or possessing firearms,” the White House statement of administration policy says. 

“The administration remains committed to exploring every possible pathway to keep guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them and ensure the safety of these individuals and their communities,” the statement continues. 

The VA referred to the White House statement for comment. 

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The policy is part of the Brady Act, which established the instant background system. When the department’s division known as the Veterans Benefits Administration determines a VA beneficiary is unable to manage his or her financial affairs due to injury, disease or age-related illness, it discloses that information to NICS. This comes after either medical evidence or a declaration by a court, according to the VA. 

The VBA will next determine whether a fiduciary should be appointed to manage the beneficiary’s benefits. The VA has an administrative relief procedure that it says will measure beneficiary’s desire to own firearms with safety of the veteran and family members. 

Senator Chris Murphy

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., a gun control advocate, posted on X, formerly Twitter, that he might vote against the entire omnibus because of the gun measure. 

“Republicans (and one or two Democrats) pushed for the new rider that allows, for the first time in 30 years, veterans judged by the VA to be mentally incompetent to buy guns,” Murphy tweeted. “These are very very mentally ill veterans – those at the highest risk of suicide.”

Responding to Murphy’s X thread, the GOA said, “This GOA-backed provision protects at least TWENTY THOUSAND veterans from being disarmed PER YEAR. Not supporting this protection is as unpatriotic as you can get. Disgusting.”



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