Senate Won't Give Veterans Due Process Rights on Gun Ownership

Senators who support veterans rights took another stab at trying to defend the due process rights of those who have served our country.

Sen. Richard Burr's (R-N.C.) Veterans Second Amendment Protection Act would have guaranteed veterans due process rights in having their ability to own a gun stripped away.

It failed this afternoon 56-44.

Currently, veterans who have a VA-appointed fiduciary to help them with their benefits are deemed "mentally defective" and are reported to the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

The amendment would have required that a judicial authority determine that VA beneficiaries pose a danger to themselves or others before they can be added to the database that would prevent them from owning a gun.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee, crossed over to add his yes vote to the amendment.

Needing a 60-vote threshold, though, even the handful of Democrats and Independents who lent their support wasn't enough to push the amendment over the top. In addition to Sanders, those were Sens. Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Kay Hagan (N.C.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Angus King (Maine), Mark Begich (Alaska), Mary Landrieu (La.), Mark Pryor (Ark.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.) and Max Baucus (Mont.).

As of July 12, 2012, there were over 129,000 VA beneficiaries who had been reported to NICS, stripping them of their constitutional rights simply because VA appointed a fiduciary to act on their behalf, according to Burr's office. A fiduciary is assigned to handle disability compensation, pension benefits, survivors' compensation, and other VA payments on behalf of a veteran, surviving spouse, dependent child, or dependent parent.

"Depriving someone of a constitutional right is a serious action, and veterans should be afforded the same treatment under the law as all other American citizens," Burr said.

"...Our veterans took an oath to uphold the Constitution and they deserve to enjoy the rights they fought so hard to protect."