The right of veterans to bear arms must be protectedBy Jalen Drummond | 06/13/2017 10:38am
CW / Kylie Cowden
Somewhere in the state of Alabama, whether it is in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains or the boonies of Jackson County, a veteran has been stripped of their constitutional right to bear arms. This valuable right was not stripped after deliberation, nor was it taken away in the context of a court of law. Rather, thousands of men and women have lost their right to keep and bear arms without due process – crucial sentiments of the liberty and freedom they sought to protect. Thankfully, some members of the Alabama Republican Delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives are seeking to rectify this wrongdoing.
On February 16, 2017, Representative Phil Roe of Tennessee introduced the Veterans Second Amendment Protection Act. This bill would prevent the Department of Veterans Affairs from denying veterans the right to purchase a firearm without the due process of law. Currently, the VA automatically classifies any veteran enrolled in the Fiduciary Program as “mentally defective” – a classification, which in accordance with the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (BHVPA), prohibits one from purchasing a firearm. Veterans are appointed a fiduciary if they are unable to manage their VA benefits. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs website, the “VA [then] reports the names of [these] incompetent beneficiaries to the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), which then adds the names to a database called the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).”
Perplexed by the correlation of balancing a checkbook with one’s ability to correctly use a firearm, and I’ll admit – rightfully so, House Republicans passed the bill 240-175, with support from five Alabama Republicans. During debate and after the bill was passed, subsequent criticism from the Left was swift and brute. Representative Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) said he was “disgusted” by the legislation. He furthered: “I support veterans’ rights to defend themselves. But I don’t support crazy people having guns, whether they’re veterans or not.” Considering that the Democratic Party purportedly claims to “believe in protecting civil liberties’ and guaranteeing civil rights…and rights for people with disabilities,” their strong rebuke of the bill is rather surprising.
At first glance, the Left’s condemnation of the proposed legislation seems somewhat sound. With the increasing number of veterans committing suicide, no one wants to make it easier for “mentally ill” veterans to purchase firearms. However, further inspection reveals that’s not what the bill does. According to NPR, “while the Department of Veterans Affairs currently adds the names of veterans it deems unfit to own a deadly weapon to a federal background check system, the bill would require a court hearing before that determination is made.”
The Veterans Second Amendment Protection Act echoes one of the core tenets of our constitution; The Fifth Amendment demands that no person shall be “deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” Is it too much to ask that we instead allow a court of law the power of denying an enumerated constitutional right instead of a government bureaucrat?
Over 400,000 veterans call Alabama their home. These brave men and women enlisted in our Armed Forces to preserve, protect, and defend the United States Constitution. These patriots gave their blood, sweat, and tears to safeguard our sacred freedoms. Do they not deserve the same freedoms they fought to secure for the rest of us? Why, in the wake of an epidemic, are Democrats opting to sacrifice the rights of a protected class of citizens? Why are Democrats willing to let due process take a back seat in the name of “security?"
In the United States of America we vehemently insist that any restriction on an individual’s liberty is subject to the due process of law. In any other instance, members of the Democratic Party would be rapturous about America’s proud values and traditions. There would be lawsuits. Were it, say, the First Amendment that was at risk, rather than the right to keep and bear arms, filibusters would populate liberal discourse and outrage would dominate discussions of legislative authority and dominion. The Left’s indignation of the Republican’s legislation is an abomination and makes a complete mockery of due process.
The bill’s future now rests in the hands of the Senate and hopefully it will make its way to President Trump’s desk. Let's hope he signs it with extreme haste.
Jalen Drummond is a guest columnist majoring in political science.