What is The American Legion position regarding veterans and their 2nd amendment rights?
It is both sad and ironic that the veterans’ community, a community in which each and every member swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States – including the 2nd Amendment -- requires advocacy to maintain their constitutional right to bear arms. Unless deemed unfit to possess weapons by a judicial authority with the full benefit of due process, The American Legion believes that each veteran, regardless of disability, should maintain the right to possess a firearm. Any constitutional right should be protected with this same expectation of careful scrutiny, to ensure that no right is removed without due process.
Under the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA), as amended, persons adjudicated to be mentally defective, or who have been committed to a mental institution are prohibited from possessing, shipping, transporting, and receiving firearms and ammunition. Neither a diagnosis of a mental illness nor treatment for a mental illness is sufficient to qualify a person as “adjudicated as a mental defective.” Rather, an individual’s “adjudication as a mental defective” relies upon a determination or decision by a court, board, commission or other lawful authority.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has the authority to determine that veterans who are unable to manage their financial affairs have a fiduciary appointed to manage them. VA’s own website states this can be done due to “injury, disease, or due to age.” Once a determination of the need for a fiduciary is made, VA is required by law to report those veterans requiring a fiduciary to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Those veterans are then prohibited from owning firearms or having firearms in their residence.
The American Legion, by resolution, fully supports the 2nd Amendment rights of American citizens. Furthermore, The American Legion has concerns about this current infringement on the rights of some veterans, and supports legislation to help improve the system and ensure that veterans’ rights are not removed without proper due process.
Louis J. Celli, Jr.
Director, Legislative Division