Anti-Gun Democrats Threaten to Tank Spending Bill Over End to VA Gun Ban

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

One of the biggest victories for Republicans in the negotiations over the six-bill budget package announced on Sunday is a ride that would put a stop to the VA's practice of treating veterans who've had a fiduciary appointed to help manage their finances as prohibited persons; submitting their info to the National Instant Check System and ending their right to keep and bear arms. Under the language agreed to by Republican and Democrat negotiators, those who've had fiduciaries appointed would have be formally adjudicated as mentally defective by a judge before they could have their rights taken away. 


The agreement has come under fire from some Democrats in Congress as well as the octogenarian-in-chief in the White House, and the gun control group Giffords is urging Democrats to vote against the spending bill so long as the rider is attached. 

Rep. Maxwell Alejandro Frost, D-Fla., said the provision’s inclusion in the package was “horrible.” Before arriving in Congress last year, Frost worked as an organizer for March For Our Lives, a student-led gun control advocacy group founded by survivors of the 2018 high school shooting in Parkland, Fla.

“It’s the largest rollback of background checks since the . . . system was created,” he said. “I’m disappointed that we’re not labeling it a poison pill, which I think it is, but I guess we’re not there as a party yet.”

The anti-gun violence organization named after and founded by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., came out against the package due to the inclusion of the rider. 

“Republicans duck the issue of gun violence and instead blame mental illness, then fight to allow individuals with diminished mental capacity unfettered access to guns,” Vanessa N. Gonzalez, Giffords’ vice president of government and political affairs, said in a statement. “We need leaders in Congress who will stand up for the families and the communities they represent and fight to save lives — even when it’s hard.”


Gonzalez's comments are absolutely vile. Veterans can have fiduciaries appointed for them for all kinds of reasons besides a debilitating mental illness, and the VA itself has acknowledged that it doesn't consider whether or not someone is a danger to themselves or others when reporting them to NICS. Once a fiduciary has been appointed, the agency is mandated to make that report. 

Rep. Mike Bost, who spearheaded the inclusion of the rider in the spending bill, said in a hearing last year that more than 14,000 veterans were disqualified from owning a firearm in 2022 under the VAs reporting, while just 12 of them were able to successfully appeal that decision and have their rights restored. The rider included in the budget bill wouldn't guarantee that every veteran who had a fiduciary appointed would be able to continue to lawfully possess their firearms, but it would at least put the onus on the government to prove that a particular veteran is "mentally defective" before stripping them of their Second Amendment rights. 

Speaking of diminished mental capacity... 

The Biden administration’s statement of administration policy on the bill specifically called out the provision, even though it encouraged lawmakers to pass the bill regardless. Sources say that there is a contingent of progressive Democrats who may vote against the bill due to the language.


If those Democrats want to scuttle the bill because it allows some veterans to retain their Second Amendment rights that's on them, but I'm gonna go out on a limb and predict that there won't be enough of them to derail the bill's passage. If Democrats capture control of the House and maintain their narrow majority in the Senate in November, however, you can rest assured that one of the first things they'll do is remove this rider from next year's budget bill and once again impose a one-size-fits-all prohibition on gun ownership for those veterans who need some assistance in managing their financial affairs. 

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