(Trenches) A legal team investigating the Obama administration’s order that certain American military veterans deemed “incompetent” give up their weapons says the problem is worse than expected.
People who live with veterans now are being ordered not to possess a gun, and some veterans are told they can “buy back” their Second Amendment rights by giving up their veterans’ benefits.
“This is simply unbelievable, On the one hand the [Veterans Administration] and the FBI have found veterans to be mentally ill and too dangerous to be allowed to own firearms, while on the other hand allowing these allegedly dangerous people to buy their firearms rights back,” wrote Michael Connelly, executive director of the United States Justice Foundation in a report.
“This is illegal and is called extortion.”
The organization has been looking into claims by a number of veterans and their family members.
The veterans were sent a letter telling them they were being classified as incompetent and the government was assigning someone to help them handle their benefits and payments.
Consequently, they were told, they could no longer own weapons, under penalty of fines and jail time.
The problem was that the veterans were being determined guilty without a hearing regarding the potential loss of their constitutional rights, USJF said at the time.
WND broke the story that the Obama administration insisted it was routine for officials to send out letters informing veterans that an unidentified “report” indicated they may be declared incompetent and consequently stripped of their Second Amendment rights.
It’s the same administration that in 2009 warned that “returning veterans possess combat skills and experience that are attractive to rightwing extremists.”
The 2009 report from the Department of Homeland Security was called “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment.” It also said Obama’s governmental managers were “concerned that rightwing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to boost their violent capabilities.”
So when hundreds, perhaps thousands, of veterans began receiving letters like the one dispatched from the Portland, Oregon, office of the Department of Veterans Affairs, alarm bells went off.
In the recent report, Connelly explained he’s uncovered so far “a coordinated effort by multiple federal agencies to disarm the American people.”
He cited the tactic of sending letters to veterans about being appointed a “fiduciary” and the resulting loss of constitutional rights.
“As we have gotten more aggressive in representing individual veterans to defend their constitutional rights the VA has adopted additional tactics against our American heroes,” the report said. “Some veterans have never gotten any letter or official notification from the VA. They find out they are on the NCIS list [of people banned from having weapons] when they try to purchase a firearm.
“Often they can’t even find out why they are on the list.”
Or veterans are told they are incompetent and can appeal the decision.
“But [they] are being told that if they do defy the government and appeal, their benefit payments can be suspended for the duration of the appeal, which can drag on for years,” the report said.
“The families of veterans are also [being] told that since they live with a veteran who has been declared incompetent they can’t own or purchase firearms.”
Or there’s that option to give up benefits, the report said.
And it’s expanding. Seniors on Medicare, some dental patients and even children seeing pediatricians have been questioned about firearm ownership.
Medical records are being passed from the Department of Health and Human Services to the FBI “of anyone who has ever told their physician they were feeling depressed, even if never treated, and anyone who has taken certain drugs for things like PTSD, ADD, or ADHD, among others.”
And, the report said the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is adding regulations that ban from owning weapons anyone who ever was “examined by a psychiatrist or psychologist,” a routine part of many family court cases.
“What is next? Will you have to surrender your firearms to keep your Social Security, or to stay on Medicare? Will you have to certify that neither you nor any of you[r] employees own firearms in order to get a contract with the federal government?”
The door to the dispute opened when USJF received a copy of a letter to a veteran from the Portland VA Medical Center several years ago.
The letter warned the vet that “evidence indicates that you are not able to handle your VA benefit payments because of a physical or mental condition.”
“We propose to rate you incompetent for VA purposes. This means we must decide if you are able to handle your VA benefit payments. We will base our decision on all the evidence we already have including any other evidence you sent to us.”
The VA also warned: “A determination of incompetency will prohibit you from purchasing, possessing, receiving, or transporting a firearm or ammunition. If you knowingly violate any of these prohibitions, you may be fined, imprisoned, or both.”
The letter was signed by K. Kalama, Veterans Service Center manager in the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs. But it didn’t present the “evidence,” the source of the evidence or why the veteran’s competency even was questioned.
At the time, WND contacted the Department of Veterans Affairs, and spokesman Randy Noller responded with a statement that the letters were no more than routine. But questions about why the letters are being sent, what evidence is used to determine a veteran is incapable of managing his or her affairs, who provides that information and why it is provided remain unanswered.
“The Department of Veterans Affairs’ policy to inform veterans of their rights regarding the Brady Act has not changed,” the statement said. “As has been policy for multiple administrations, VA acts in accordance with federal law and works with the Department of Justice to properly maintain the NCIS database. VA notifies any veteran who may be deemed by VA to be mentally incapable of managing his or her own funds of the opportunity to contest this determination and also to seek relief from the reporting requirements under the Brady Act, as required by law.”
Also unanswered was who makes the decision to put in motion the department’s decision to “deem” veterans “mentally incapable.”
Connelly noted the letter “provides no specifics on the reasons for the proposed finding of incompetency; just that is based on a determination by someone in the VA.”
“In every state in the United States no one can be declared incompetent to administer their own affairs without due process of law and that usually requires a judicial hearing with evidence being offered to prove to a judge that the person is indeed incompetent,” he explained.
“This is a requirement of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that states that no person shall ‘be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.”
Read the letter that got the investigation started: