Sunday, July 1, 2012

Veterans Fought for Your Rights -- Theirs in Jeopardy

Photo property of © P-G Matuszak, 2010.

The current state of affairs is unimaginable. Dr. Phil produced a show allegedly about Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and/or Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) whose original title referred to veterans as "monsters". The Mainstream Media sensationalizes any news report involving a veteran, painting the veteran as mentally unstable. Events and practices such as these create false perceptions that any military veteran is a ticking time-bomb and a potential, unpredictable danger to ordinary citizens.

Bolstered by these fallacies is the fact that many veterans are denied basic constitutional rights due to injuries or circumstances that would not necessarily preclude ordinary citizens from these rights. The most affected rights are those that are meant to be protected by the Second Amendment.

If a soldier is injured at war, returns home, and falls upon hard economic circumstances due to the disability, veterans can seek help through the Veterans' Administration. In many cases, the VA may deem the veteran incapable, at least temporarily, of handling their personal finances. Say that disabled veteran also suffered a divorce due to injuries and hard financial times. Say the spouse normally took care of the bills, budget, and the like so the disabled veteran could concentrate on recovering and rehabilitating. Add the poor job market into the mix. Now you have a veteran that needs that financial assistance.

Having bouts of aphasia and needing classes in budgeting are not crimes and should not automatically disqualify these heroic men and women that sacrificed so much.

To "protect" the disabled veteran, the VA then will deem him incapable of handling his own finances. At that point, the veteran is placed into the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), even if  the disabled veteran has not committed any crime greater than a speeding ticket. Once on that list, the veteran is denied purchasing or carrying a weapon.

Soldiers and Marines receive extensive escalation of force training coupled with "shoot/don't shoot" scenario training. Other than perhaps seasoned police officers, Soldiers and Marines are the best trained in use of force. They know that pulling that trigger is a final option once all others have been exhausted. The amount of training and practice received far outnumbers the amount received for your average concealed carry permit holder. Yet, because a disabled veteran needs help managing a budget, this training and the basic right to bear arms is taken away as though they are a violent criminal.

Fortunately, a Senate Bill was introduced, now for the third time, to protect those veterans. Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina and 21 Co-Sponsors introduced the "Veterans Second Amendment Protection Act". The bill was re-introduced in October of 2011 and was referred  to the Senate Committee for Veterans' Affairs on June 27, 2012. Under this bill, a veteran must not only be deemed "mentally incompetent" due to an injury, but be found a direct danger to himself or others by a court of law before being added  to the NICS database. Hopefully this will preserve the rights these veterans served to protect so they may enjoy them as well.