- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Retired Army Gen. David Petraeus and a cadre of retired generals have joined a nonprofit organization’s fight against “The Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act.”

Republican Reps. Mike Conaway of Texas and Rep. Brad Wenstrup of Ohio in late January introduced H.R. 629, which would prohibit the Department of Veterans Affairs from labeling veterans “mentally defective” if they use a fiduciary to navigate the system.

The Veterans Coalition for Common Sense — a group created by former Democrat Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona — claims the bill will put veterans and civilians in danger while denying the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) vital information.

“The bill you are debating comes at a time when an average of 20 veterans commit suicide each day, two-thirds of whom do so by using a firearm,” the group said in a statement, USA Today reported Monday. “We know that non-deployed veterans are at a 61 percent higher risk of suicide compared to the American civilian population, and deployed veterans are at a 41 percent higher risk. When vulnerable veterans have access to firearms, they can do harm not only to themselves but also to family members and loved ones.”

The 14 signatories include Army Gens. Wesley Clark, Michael V. Hayden, James T. Hill, Stanley A. McChrystal and others from all branches of the U.S. military.

Supporters of the bill contend that any veteran who uses an expert to handle financial affairs should not be labeled “mentally defective” by the VA and, for all intents and purposes, denied Second Amendment rights.

“The Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act will ensure that veterans are able to take advantage of the services offered by the VA without fear of being mislabeled as ‘mentally defective,’” Mr. Conaway said in a statement released Jan. 24. This is a critical lapse in the system for veterans, but we are able to fix it with this legislation while still retaining the appropriate safeguards for those who truly need assistance.

“The National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) proudly supports introduction of the Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act (H.R. 629), a bill that would prevent the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) from restricting veterans’ Second Amendment rights without due process,” the group said upon the bill’s introduction on Jan. 24.

H.R. 629 was referred to the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs on Feb. 3. If the bill passes through the U.S. House and Senate and is signed into law by President Donald Trump, then the FBI would be forced to destroy over 174,000 records on veterans deemed mentally ill.



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