GOP bill aims to protect veterans' gun rights, even if deemed 'mentally defective'

“Depriving someone of a constitutional right is a serious action, and veterans should be afforded the same treatment under the law as all other American citizens," Burr said Thursday. "This legislation would protect the rights of veterans and their families by ensuring that only a proper judicial authority is able to determine who is referred to NICS. Our veterans took an oath to uphold the Constitution and they deserve to enjoy the rights they fought so hard to protect."

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The Gun Control Act prohibits individuals deemed a to have a "mental defective" from buying guns. Currently, veterans who have a VA appointed trustee to help them make benefit decisions are deemed "mentally defective" and are reported to the FBI's NICS.

Burr, the ranking member on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, argued that the VA's review process for assigning a fiduciary — or trustee — is meant to determine one's ability to manage VA-provided cash assistance such as disability compensation, pension benefits and survivors' compensation. He said the process does not determine whether the veteran is a danger to himself or others.

Sens. John Boozman (R-Ark.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), David Vitter (R-La.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and James Inhofe (R-Okla.) are co-sponsoring the bill.

The GOP senators introduced the bill the same week that the Senate Judiciary Committee passed Democratic gun control legislation, which is expect to receive a floor vote later this year.