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WARRIORS, WEAPONS, & CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS

Originally Posted 12/06/2012



An article in Monday’s Washington Times, highlighted the Democratic
efforts in the Senate to block Senator Tom Coburn’s amendment to require
a court order before denying a veteran under Veteran’s Administration
care the right to own a gun.  

Until four years ago, I would not have
been so concerned about the VA making a medical mental competency call
on an individual veteran being treated for mental health issues.  Certainly, no one in their right mind would argue that the mentally incompetent should own guns.  Also,
the vast majority of the people who work for the bureaucratic
organization known as the VA are professionals and are concerned for the
veterans they care for. But the issue of competency becomes an issue
because the VA is a bureaucracy, and a political one at that.

Every man and woman who enlists in our
military services raises their right hand and swears to support and
defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies,
foreign and domestic.  When they become citizen-guardians
of the Constitution, they sign blank checks with their lives and
subordinate some of their Constitutional rights to the good order and
disciple of the military, which is necessary to complete that mission.  Specifically,
they give up their rights to free political speech, submit to random
search and seizure of their personal property (especially when living in
the barracks or on board a ship), and relinquish their right to posses
and control their personally owned weapons when living on military
installations.  While most will leave military service
after their initial enlistment, they continue to up hold their oaths as
life-long commitments as they continue their lives as civilians with the
full rights to free speech and gun ownership that all citizens enjoy. 

There are well meaning efforts to
highlight the challenges of those veterans who suffer because of the
wounds or stresses they endured when they went into harm’s way on our
nation’s behalf. But all too often it becomes a political stiletto that
is used to back-stab veterans in the political arena while professing to
promote their causes.  There is an underlying political
narrative being used by the Democrats and the Administration which
serves undermine the political credibility of veterans. It is a
narrative in which most veterans’ simple desire for a bit of gratitude,
is answered with condescending pity from those whom they have protected.  It
is one which highlights traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and post
traumatic stress (PTSD). It visualizes all veterans as having been
traumatized to the point that any expression of passion for the oath
they took and the causes they served as due to post traumatic stress;
one that portrays veterans as “loved but unstable.” This is a narrative
which seeks to marginalize veterans politically, and disarm them
literally.

Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein has led this narrative.  Ever
since she took to the airwaves and blamed the murders of San Francisco
Mayor George Moscone and City Supervisor Harvey Milk on their murder’s
service in Vietnam in 1978, she has continued her crusade against gun
ownership, especially semiautomatic weapons. 

Fortunately and despite all the
political and media attention given to TBI and PTSD rates among service
members and veterans, the crime and suicide rates among combat veterans
are much lower than the rates for the same age, sex, and social
demographics of the general population.  Yet, veterans who
have sacrificed for this nation, have the bar lowered for the
infringement of their rights after they leave military service, and are
portrayed as somehow being less grounded and stable for political
viewpoints and gun ownership than their civilian counterparts who have
not served.

An article in the Wall Street Journal
following the Gabby Giffords mass shooting, reports that all other
citizens require court adjudication to be declared mentally incompetent,
with a total of 1.1 million people currently on the NICS mentally unfit
list. This means that the 100,000 people currently banned from gun
ownership by VA injunction mentioned by the Brady Center in the
Washington Times article, account for a large portion of those banned in
the NICS.  This demonstrates that veterans are much more
likely to be reported in NICS and banned from gun ownership for mental
incapacity than those who have not served. The problem is not that
mentally unfit veterans are on the list, but that they are placed there
by bureaucrats against whom they have no independent appeal.

This is very worrisome because
President Obama and his administration cannot be depended upon to defend
the Constitutional rights of Veterans any more than they could be to
defend the voting rights of our Active Duty personnel who are deployed.
The Department of Defense under the leadership of Defense Secretary
Panetta, paid minimal lip service to ensuring the voting rights of our
deployed Service Members in the last election.  Many
absentee ballots for those in Afghanistan were destroyed in a plane
crash. There was also a very lack-luster effort on the part of the
Defense Department to get deployed Soldiers to register for their
absentee ballots and to get those ballots to them, in spite of the legal
requirements to do so. Then, the President went beyond simply failing
in defending the rights of Service Members to vote, and engaged in
active suppression of those rights. President Obama’s re-election
campaign sued to eliminate the three day extension on absentee and early
voting for members of military in Ohio.  Is the VA any less subject to political manipulation by the Administration than the Defense Department?

 What is to prevent
Obama’s Veterans Administration from implementing a rule requiring every
Purple Heart recipient to pass a “mental competency” test before being
allowed to own weapons? What is to prevent the VA from extending that
competency test to any Veteran who has served in a combat zone, because
they might have PTSD?  What is to prevent this
Administration and the political bureaucracy of the VA from
cross-referencing that competency test with a list of known Oath Keepers
or other political test?

There is a very telling scene in the
movie “The Last Emperor.” The young Emperor of China returns to
Manchuria in 1935 to find his palace guards disarmed and Japanese
appointed ministers in control of his government. [i]
Most Americans are not used to thinking such a scene could have
relevance to the United States because we are a Constitutional Republic
whose citizens have an active role in governing and protecting our form
of government. But there seems to be an active Democratic effort to
marginalize and disarm the sworn guardians of our Republic.

This is why it is so important for the
Congress to prevent the Veterans Administration (VA) from unilaterally
ruling individual veterans mentally incompetent to own guns.  This
is where Senator Coburn, Congressional leaders, and the American people
must continue the fight to protect the Constitutional rights of our
veterans, so that they will always remain the sworn citizen-guardians of
our Constitution.
   



[i]  The Last Emperor,  1987, Scene Begins @ 5:30 min mark. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&NR=1&v=d7YwquOxkPg

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