Rep. Andy Biggs leads House GOP group calling for changes to VA gun restrictions
Rep. Andy Biggs and 20 other Republican lawmakers petitioned President Trump Wednesday to curb regulations at the Department of Veteran Affairs they argue are stripping veterans of their Second Amendment rights.
The group led by Mr. Biggs, Arizona Republican and chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, asked Mr. Trump on Wednesday to use executive powers to rein in the VA’s fiduciary policy.
“The VA’s fiduciary rule has led to many veterans being wrongly deprived of their constitutional rights. Receiving held to manage your VA benefits is not the same as being ‘adjudicated as a mental defective’ or being ‘committed to a mental institution,’” their letter read. “Veterans should not have to worry about being disarmed when they seek assistance with benefits or healthcare from the VA.”
According to the VA’s website, when a beneficiary is determined to be unfit to manage their financial affairs, a fiduciary is appointed to help manage those benefits from the department. Though, there is an appeals process through the Board of Veterans Appeals.
However, the Republicans’ complaint stems from the Department’s determination that the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act — which mandated gun background checks and restricted gun access for those deemed mentally ill — extended to those with a fiduciary.
This rule has been in place since 1998.
“In compliance with this act, VA reports the names of incompetent beneficiaries to the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), which then adds the names to a database called the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Gun dealers must check NICS for the name of a potential buyer before selling him/her a firearm,” the VA website reads.
A veteran barred from getting a gun because of this rule can face fines or jail time for violations but can apply for a waiver from the VA.
Mr. Biggs and the other signatories argued that this was an unfair restriction on veterans that could escalate to civilians as well.
They endorsed a proposal from the Gun Owners of America and the Independence Fund that calls for the VA’s rule to be reformed and not allow any NICS referrals without a judicial authority determining a given beneficiary to be mentally unfit.
“Mr. President, there is room for executive action to reconcile the VA’s interpretive guidance with the VA’s limited statutory authority,” they wrote. “We urge you to take this long-overdue action to respect the right of veterans to keep and bear arms.”