Email #131: “irresponsible and dangerous”

There’s no safer political position than supporting veterans. And since you have taken the second largest amount of money from the NRA as any member of Congress, you’re always looking for gun control regulations to vote against. So a bill that expands veterans’ access to guns is ideal for you.

But despite the easy political points you earned, I’m still surprised that you voted for the so-called Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act. You bragged in a newsletter:

“Currently, the VA labels a veteran as “mentally defective” if they receive assistance from a fiduciary, which results in the veteran being prohibited from purchasing or owning a firearm. It is extremely concerning to think that a veteran’s Second Amendment right can be taken away by a bureaucrat, without a hearing by a judge or due process under the law, just because they cannot manage their own finances. That’s why I supported the Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act to restore the due process rights of veterans by prohibiting the VA from applying this label, unless a court finds that the veteran is a danger to themselves or others.”

Retired U.S. Army Gen. Peter Chiarelli disagrees. “No one is against the Second Amendment,” he says, “but bills like this limit our ability to separate people from their weapons when they’re in personal crisis.”He points out that classifying someone as mentally incompetent and in need of someone else to handle their finances “is based on the fact that someone is in a very, very tenuous position because of an illness and needs to be treated before they’re allowed to make major decisions that could financially wipe them out. My mother reached a point where she can no longer manage her finances, and I had to do it for her.”

Like General Chiarelli, I am in the same legal position with my own mother. I had to take over her finances years ago when she was still in the very early stages of Alzheimer’s. She didn’t keep a gun in her closet, but I did find a suicide instruction manual tucked under a bible after my sister and I moved her to an assisted living facility. If it had a been a gun, I doubt my mother would be alive right now.

That’s why the Veterans Coalition for Common Sense calls the bill “irresponsible and dangerous”: “When vulnerable veterans have access to firearms, they can do harm not only to themselves but also to family members and loved ones.”

This was the wrong bill for you to use for easy political points. Your allegiance to the NRA isn’t helping veterans. It’s harming them.

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Author: Chris Gavaler

Chris Gavaler is an assistant professor of English at Washington and Lee University where he teaches creative writing, contemporary fiction, and comics. He has published two novels, Pretend I'm Not Here (HarperCollins 2002) and School For Tricksters (Southern Methodist University 2011), and two nonfictions, On the Origin of Superheroes (Iowa University 2015) and Superhero Comics (Bloomsbury forthcoming 2017).

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