Senators are missing the mark on gun amendment

Oklahoma’s Sen. Tom Coburn has put forth an amendment on the new NDAA (not to be confused with last year’s NDAA that we have written about a lot here at United LIberty).  The proposal deals with veterans gun rights, and it’s definitely churned the waters a bit in the senate:

Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican, wants veterans who have been deemed “mentally incompetent” to have their cases adjudicated by a judge — rather than the Department of Veterans Affairs, as happens currently — and argued that veterans who simply cannot support themselves financially are needlessly given the label and, as such, cannot buy or possess firearms.

“We’re not asking for anything big,” Mr. Coburn said Thursday evening on the Senate floor. “We’re just saying that if you’re going to take away the Second Amendment rights … they ought to have it adjudicated, rather than mandated by someone who’s unqualified to state that they should lose their rights.”

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, objected to Mr. Coburn’s proposal once he found out it was part of a package of amendments to the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act the body was to vote on.

“I love our veterans; I vote for them all the time, they defend us,” Mr. Schumer said. “But if you are mentally ill, whether you’re a veteran or not, just like if you’re a felon, if you’re a veteran or not, and you have been judged to be mentally infirm, you should not have a gun.”

What Schumer isn’t getting is that Coburn’s bill doesn’t change the fact that a mentally ill person can’t legally purchase a firearm.  In fact, what it does is simply put veterans on the same plane as everyone else.

When an average American is adjudicated as mentally ill, that is handled in by a court.  Coburn’s proposal simply requires that the same be true for veterans, rather than having the incompetent Veterans Administration make that same determination.

Unfortunately, Coburn didn’t stick to his guns.  Instead, he backed down after pressure from within his own party who feared fillibuster reform in retaliation.

So…Republicans are supposed to be pro-troops, pro-veteran, and pro-gun, but let this one slide by?

However, there may be deeper issues than just guns and gun rights.

The debate on the measure should not be about gun control, but about veterans’ mental health, said Tom Tarantino, senior legislative associate for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

“If even one person will not go to seek the help they need and they fall through the cracks because we failed to remove the mental health stigma as much as possible, then we’ve failed,” he said. “Right now, what happened is someone pulled the thread of politics in something that should not political. And that thread’s starting to unravel.”

Needless to say, the Brady crowd is prattling on about how so many people will be able to buy guns if this were to pass.  Unfortunately for them, so what?  Most of those people have no interest in owning a gun, or else they are just as likely to get one regardless.

The Brady Campaign also claims that there is due process.  Frankly, they’re wrong.  Due process indicates that the legal system is involved.  It isn’t.  Instead, the process is exclusively through the VA, which may or may not have any interest in the right of vets to keep and bear arms.

Here’s to hoping that the issue is revisited and we see some positive movement on that front.

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