Liberty Planet Weblog

Disarming America’s Heroes: Veterans Receiving Letters Prohibiting Firearms Possession

Posted on: February 24, 2013

Written By Constitutional Attorney Michael Connelly, J.D. and originally published at Red Flag

How would you feel if you received a letter from the U.S. Government informing you that because of a physical or mental condition that the government says you have it is proposing to rule that you are incompetent to handle your own financial affairs? Suppose that letter also stated that the government is going to appoint a stranger to handle your affairs for you at your expense? That would certainly be scary enough but it gets worse.

What if that letter also stated: “A determination of incompetency will prohibit you from purchasing, possessing, receiving, or transporting a firearm or ammunition. If you knowingly violate any of these prohibitions, you may be fined, imprisoned, or both pursuant to the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, Pub.L.No. 103-159, as implemented at 18, United States Code 924(a)(2).”?

That makes is sound like something right from a documentary on a tyrannical dictatorship somewhere in the world. Yet, as I write this I have a copy of such a letter right in front of me. It is being sent by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of America’s heroes. In my capacity as Executive Director of the United States Justice Foundation (USJF) I have been contacted by some of these veterans and the stories I am getting are appalling.

The letter provides no specifics on the reasons for the proposed finding of incompetency; just that is based on a determination by someone in the VA. In every state in the United States no one can be declared incompetent to administer their own affairs without due process of law and that usually requires a judicial hearing with evidence being offered to prove to a judge that the person is indeed incompetent. This is a requirement of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that states that no person shall “… be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law…”.
Obviously, the Department of Veterans Affairs can’t be bothered by such impediments as the Constitution, particularly since they are clearly pushing to fulfill one of Obama’s main goals, the disarming of the American people. Janet Napolitano has already warned law enforcement that some of the most dangerous among us are America’s heroes, our veterans, and now according to this letter from the VA they can be prohibited from buying or even possessing a firearm because of a physical or mental disability.

Think about it, the men and women who have laid their lives on the line to defend us and our Constitution are now having their own Constitutional rights denied. There are no clear criteria for the VA to declare a veteran incompetent. It can be the loss of a limb in combat, a head injury, a diagnosis of PTSD, or even a soldier just telling someone at the VA that he or she is depressed over the loss of a buddy in combat. In none of these situations has the person been found to be a danger to themselves or others. If that was the case than all of the Americans who have suffered from PTSD following the loss of a loved one or from being in a car accident would also have to be disqualified from owning firearms. It would also mean that everyone who has ever been depressed for any reason should be disarmed. In fact, many of the veterans being deprived of their rights have no idea why it is happening.

The answer seems to be it is simply because they are veterans. At the USJF we intend to find the truth by filing a Freedom of Information Act request to the Department of Veterans Affairs to force them to disclose the criteria they are using to place veterans on the background check list that keeps them from exercising their Second Amendment rights. Then we will take whatever legal steps are necessary to protect our American warriors.

The reality is that Obama will not get all of the gun control measures he wants through Congress, and they wouldn’t be enough for him anyway. He wants a totally disarmed America so there will be no resistance to his plans to rob us of our nation. That means we have to ask who will be next. If you are receiving a Social Security check will you get one of these letters? Will the government declare that you are incompetent because of your age and therefore banned from firearm ownership. It certainly fits in with the philosophy and plans of the Obama administration. It is also certain that our military veterans don’t deserve this and neither do any other Americans.

The VA Letter in question can be viewed and downloaded at the following link:
http://static.squarespace.com/static/4f34530ecb12e336a9dfe29c/t/5127fe2ae4b0706f4bc5fa50/1361575466089/VA-letter%20Copy%20by%20RedFlag%20News.pdf

Special Note: So, here’s how it works folks: A veteran goes in for a VA checkup, and is asked a few questions by a VA “Rater”, or C&P Examiner. The rater sends a report to a Field Examiner. The veteran is then, for one reason or another, labeled “incompetent” in the handling his own VA benefits and pay. However, the label of incompetence does not only extend to benefits; it extends to many aspects of the veteran’s rights as an American. According to the government, being rated as “incompetent” in one’s finances means one is also incompetent to own or handle a firearm. The government gives no rationale for this strange association.

It is important to point out that when a VA “Rater” designates a veteran as “incompetent”, this is a totally arbitrary process. I would like to cite the words of Jim Strickland, a nationally known veterans advocate who deals with the problem of “incompetency designation” in many forms. In the following article, he discusses how the VA is legally able to withhold pay from benefits using the incompetency model:

“…The incompetence label isn’t hard to come by. You were at a C & P exam at some point during the claims process. The examiner may have asked you questions about how you handle your finances. Your reply may have been “My spouse does most of our check writing and bill paying. He/she is really good at that and I’m not so I don’t do it.” That is enough for the examiner to make a note that you are incompetent to manage your money that VA pays you for your compensation.”
“…If you disagree that you are incompetent, you must appeal ASAP. The appeal is pretty routine and is accomplished with a Notice of Disagreement (NOD) letter much as any other appeal is started. Please note that when VA has “proposed” to appoint a fiduciary that they will not accept a NOD. The NOD is only accepted in response to and adverse action by VA and is not accepted when there is only a proposal of adverse action. I recommend that the veteran proceed to the NOD and anticipate that VA will reject it. This will get it in the record and establish that you do not believe VA made the correct decision.”
http://statesidelegal.org/can-va-hold-money-you-because-rater-stated-you-incompetent

Strickland further notes that he believes the VA’s handling of this process is “improving”, however, it seems as though it is now being used as a backdoor to violate the 2nd Amendment rights of law abiding veterans. Just to reiterate:
The government is now rescinding the 2nd Amendment rights of veterans labeled incompetent for ANY reason, including a perceived inability to handle personal finances. Can’t balance a checkbook? They claim the right to take your firearms!

Source: Oath Keepers

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