Bob Unruh joined WND in 2006 after nearly three decades with the Associated Press, as well as several Upper Midwest newspapers, where he covered everything from legislative battles and sports to tornadoes and homicidal survivalists. He is also a photographer whose scenic work has been used commercially.More ↓Less ↑
In an apparent threat to Second Amendment rights, some American military veterans have received a letter from the Veterans Administration warning that their competency to handle their own affairs is under review, and if determined by government bureaucrats to be “incompetent,” they would be barred from possessing weapons.
In a statement on the organization’s website, Executive Director Michael Connelly said his organization is pursuing a Freedom of Information Act demand to the Department of Veterans Affairs to “force them to disclose the criteria they are using to place veterans on the background check list that keeps them from exercising their Second Amendment rights.”
“Then we will take whatever legal steps are necessary to protect our American warriors,” he wrote.
He said he’s been approached by a significant number of veterans who have received letters from the VA.
The letter states that the Department of Veterans Affairs has “received” information about the veteran that “because of your disabilities you may need help in handling your Department of Affairs (VA) benefits.”
However, it provides no details other that the information was “a report from Portland VA Medical Center.”
“The evidence indicates that you are not able to handle your VA benefit payments because of a physical or mental condition,” the letter warns. “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.”
Completion of the incompetency determination means that a “fiduciary” would be appointed to manage the veteran’s payments.
The VA also warns: “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 then offers the veteran an opportunity to “request a personal hearing within 30 days from the date at the top of this letter to present evidence or argument on any important point in your claim.”
But it says the VA will not pay some of the expenses of the hearing.
“If we don’t hear from you within the next 60 days, we will assume you have no additional evidence and do not want a hearing. After those 60 days we will make our decision using the evidence we already have and tell you our decision.”
The letter is signed by K. Kalama, Veterans Service Center manager in the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs.
The letter, Connelly wrote, sounds “like something right from a documentary on a tyrannical dictatorship somewhere in the world.”
“Yet, as I write this I have a copy of such a letter right in front of me,” he said. ‘It is being sent by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of America’s heroes.”
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.’
“Obviously, the Department of Veterans Affairs can’t be bothered by such impediments as the Constitution, particularly since they are clearly pushing to fulfill one of Obama’s main goals, the disarming of the American people. Janet Napolitano has already warned law enforcement that some of the most dangerous among us are America’s heroes, our veterans, and now according to this letter from the VA they can be prohibited from buying or even possessing a firearm because of a physical or mental disability,” Connelly wrote.
Connelly argued there “are no clear criteria for the VA to declare a veteran incompetent.”
“It can be the loss of a limb in combat, a head injury, a diagnosis of PTSD, or even a soldier just telling someone at the VA that he or she is depressed over the loss of a buddy in combat. In none of these situations has the person been found to be a danger to themselves or others. If that was the case than all of the Americans who have suffered from PTSD following the loss of a loved one or from being in a car accident would also have to be disqualified from owning firearms. It would also mean that everyone who has ever been depressed for any reason should be disarmed. In fact, many of the veterans being deprived of their rights have no idea why it is happening,” Connelly said.
He said the issue raises another huge question.
“We have to ask who will be next. If you are receiving a Social Security check will you get one of these letters? Will the government declare that you are incompetent because of your age and therefore banned from firearm ownership. It certainly fits in with the philosophy and plans of the Obama administration,” he wrote.