The Obama administration is unfairly blocking tens of thousands of veterans from owning guns, according to a report by The Hill.
According to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), military veterans make up a large amount of the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), despite the fact they may not be a danger to society.
Grassley claims the gun ban, “effectively voids their Second Amendment rights.”
A 2013 Senate report stated the Department of Veteran Affairs is responsible for reporting more than “143,000 beneficiaries, including about 83,000 veterans, to the ‘mental defective’ category of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.”
Once listed, veterans become unable to purchase guns.
“It’s disturbing to think that the men and women who dedicated themselves to defending our freedom and values face undue threats to their fundamental Second Amendment rights from the very agency established to serve them,” Grassley said in a statement Wednesday. “A veteran or dependent shouldn’t lose their constitutional rights because they need help with bookkeeping.”
The Washington Times reported that Grassley aired his grievances to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr and wants him to justify why the Department of Justice gun ban list “mental defective” category is largely made up of military veterans and their dependents.
In a letter to Holder, Grassley highlighted the inconsistent application of standards and weak due process protections as the main causes of the Department of Veterans Affairs adding “a disproportionate number of names” to the ban list.
“Instead VA reports individuals to the gun ban list if an individual merely needs financial assistance managing VA benefits. Although the VA process is not designed to regulate firearm ownership, it results in veterans and their loved ones being barred from exercising their fundamental, Constitutionally-guaranteed Second Amendment rights,” he wrote.
The VA suggests many of the veterans they deem “incompetent” and need financial assistance to manage their benefits be categorized in the “mental defective” section. However, Grassley claims they fail to consider “whether a veteran is a danger to himself, herself, or others,” the federal standard for denying someone possession of a gun. He also noted the VA’s listings are too loose for the federal background check law’s standard.
In Grassley’s opinion, veterans “are particularly singled out” and should not have “to prove that they have the ability to exercise their Second Amendment rights.”
“According to the Congressional Research Service, as of June 1, 2012, 99.3% of all names reported to the NICS list’s ‘mental defective’ category were provided by the Veterans Administration (VA) even though reporting requirements apply to all federal agencies,” Mr. Grassley’s letter continued to say.
The letter shows the Grassley expects a response from Holder by April 30.