A 2012 document reveals what the Daily Caller called a “shocking government program” where the Department of Veterans Affairs is disarming veterans by getting them placed on the FBI’s criminal background-check list, Patrick Howley reported Tuesday. The VA, he said, is sending personal medical and financial information directly to the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms so guns can be taken in home raids.
But now, Howley said, veterans who have been deemed either mentally incompetent or financially incapable are telling their stories. The harassment they and their families receive from the government “starts when vets go to the VA to get medical help,” he added.
The 2012 document, labaled, “MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS AND THE FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION REGARDING THE NATIONAL INSTANT CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECK SYSTEM,” says the VA must give the FBI health information it will add to its criminal database. So much for privacy and confidentiality of personal patient information.
According to the memo, the VA “will provide an encrypted compact disc exchanged via mail to the FBI no less than quarterly for, inter alia, inclusion in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).” The memo also says the NICS database is a list of “persons prohibited under federal law from receiving or possessing firearms.”
Moreover, the memo says the VA will give the FBI a list of “individuals who have been rated by VA as being unable to manage their VA benefits” on a monthly basis. A CD containing that list is sent every month from Austin, Howley said. As of July 12, 2012, there were over 129,000 beneficiaries in the program.
A Texas veteran told the Daily Caller he lost his Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms because he changed the way he banks. Henry Wrobel said a VA counselor named “Dr. Blair” determined he could not handle his own finances and that “his wife handles his finances.” As a result, Wrobel said, he received a letter saying that like a felon, he can no longer be around guns.
“I had a pistol permit in Connecticut at 21, and the only things against me are one speeding ticket and two parking tickets. My constitutional rights, my dignity, means nothing to” the counselor, Wrobel told the Daily Caller. “I have no crimes whatsoever against me, and now I’m stripped of my constitutional rights as though I’m a felon.”
Wroble said his wife has been appointed his fiduciary “as though I’m a retarded child.” But Wrobley isn’t retarded, he’s disabled. His injuries include two “made-up thumbs” resulting from 12 hand surgeries, a wired-on shoulder, and other ailments that make it difficult for him to drive. Now, he’s not allowed to own firearms.
“Wrobel,” Howley said, “blamed America’s ‘anti-gun president’ for trying to ‘break the spirit of America’ by taking away veterans’ guns.” Obama has made gun control a central piece of his agenda, but has not succeeded in getting Congress to pass anti-gun legislation.
One veteran told the Daily Caller he lost his guns after refusing to take medications prescribed by the VA. The drugs, he said, made him so sick he “pretty much lived in bed.” He noticed an immediate improvement when someone brought him cannabis. He told the VA he wouldn’t take their pills, and was deemed incompetent by nine doctors. As a result, the ATF came to get his guns. He appealed the decision and got his guns back. The VA “labeled him an alcoholic and threatened him with arrest when he said he planned to protest their decision publicly,” Howley said.
Widows of veterans are also under fire, the Daily Caller report said. One veteran recalled that his mother, the widow of a Vietnam War veteran, was declared incompetent by the VA without the benefit of a court trial and lost the right to keep and bear arms.
The issue has not gone unnoticed by lawmakers. Recently, Fox News reported, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, sent a letter to outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder, asking why so many veterans are being classified as “mentally defective,” and added to the federal gun ban list.
“Specifically,” Grassley wrote, “once the VA determines that a veteran requires a fiduciary to administer benefit payments, the VA reports that veteran to the gun ban list, consequently denying his or her right to possess and own firearms. In the past, the VA has attempted to justify its actions by relying on a single federal regulation, 38 C.F.R. § 3.353, which by its plain language grants limited authority to determine incompetence, but only in the context of financial matters: ‘Ratings agencies have sole authority to make official determinations of competency and incompetency for purposes of: insurance and…disbursement of benefits.'”
In short, Townhall’s Katie Pavlich said, the regulation only deals with veterans’ financial matters and says nothing about guns. “This is effectively a way for them to attack the Second Amendment rights of veterans and it has to be changed,” she said.