Lest we forget: This Vet Is Not A Threat
by Shari Dovale
The Gun Control Act (GCA), codified at 18 U.S.C. § 922(g), makes it unlawful for certain categories of persons to ship, transport, receive, or possess firearms or ammunition, to include any person who has been adjudicated as a mental defective or has been committed to any mental institution;
If the Veteran’s Administration (VA) decides – often wrongly – that a Veteran is incompetent to manage their own finances – and appoints a person to take over their personal affairs (a fiduciary), a record is then created and sent to the FBI. The FBI enters the veteran’s record in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). This, in turn, can prevent the veteran from buying, transporting and owning a firearm.
This has been an ongoing battle for Americans. What began several years ago, under the government’s claims of “Fake News” and “Myths”, is the very real crusades to maintain the citizen’s rights guaranteed under the US Constitution.
Last week marked the 4 year anniversary of one such fight. An encounter that woke up a nation to the plight of our veterans. This is the story of John Arnold.
This Vet Is Not A Threat
In September of 2014, John Arnold, a Navy veteran from Priest River, Idaho, suffered a “cerebrovascular accident” (a stroke of unspecified kind).
Based on this diagnosis, and the local doctor checking a box on his VA Aid and Assistance form (21-2680 dated Dec 5th, 2014), Mr. Arnold’s name was turned over to the FBI for the NICS as part of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act.
Upon his release from care he received a letter dated January 20, 2015, telling him that the VA was reviewing evidence about his ability to handle his own financial affairs.
A second letter dated July 30, 2015 informed Mr. Arnold that the VA had finished their review and had decided that, as of July 23, 2015, he was deemed incompetent for VA purposes, and the evidence showed his disability would keep him from managing his Department of VA benefits.
The letter stated that the decision was based on evidence which included the information the Doctor provided on the VA Form. The letter reminded Mr. Arnold that he was ineligible to purchase, possess, receive or transport a firearm or ammunition, citing language in the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act.
This letter also informed Mr. Arnold, that he “may be fined and/or imprisoned” if he “knowingly violate[d] this law.”
Local citizens were outraged. This was a man they had known for years, and saw him like family. They contacted their State Representative, Heather Scott, and asked others to join them that morning.
Two State Representatives, the Bonner County Sheriff, the Priest River Chief of Police and over 100 citizens gathered in support of Navy veteran John Arnold on Thursday, August 6th, 2015.
They rallied against the Department of Veterans Affairs’ recent letter declaring Mr. Arnold incompetent to handle his own VA finances by their standards, stating he is prohibited from ownership or possession of any firearm or ammunition. Arnold was threatened with felony prosecution if he violated their orders.
Rep. Heather Scott tells us that she received a phone call from the State Veterans service officer saying that if “you guys want to help John, the best thing you can do is take his guns and lock them in a shed out back.” If the VA actually saw the firearms it would escalate the situation.
When the county veteran’s service officer (not the VA field examiner) arrived at Mr. Arnold’s home to discuss John’s situation with him, he let John know that no field examiner would be visiting the home that day. However, another appointment was set for Tuesday August 11th for a field examiner to visit the home.
On Monday August 10, 2015, Mr. Arnold received a letter dated August 10, 2015 from the same doctor who made the initial determination of his incompetency. The letter stated that “Mr. Arnold has made a dramatic improvement (since 2014), both physically and mentally” and “he is now competent to handle his financial affairs and should be allowed to do so”. This follow-up action was done without a physical exam or even a phone call from the physician.
The Field Examiner arrived on August 11, 2015 and said that she was planning to recommend Mr. Arnold to be rated as competent, however, it might take a couple of months for the paperwork to reflect this change.
In truth, it took several months for Mr. Arnold’s gun rights to be fully restored to him.
Additionally, the Federal government department of Veterans Services/Administration determined that, since the money was received from them, they had every right to approve of how it is spent. This could extend to everyone that receives any retirement, subsidy, or other moneys from the Federal government. Everything comes with a price!
This was, and still is, a very real issue that many Americans are dealing with. The people that stood for Mr. Arnold that day weren’t constitutional authorities or legal experts. They were merely common citizens, taking a stand against federal overreach.
Remember John Arnold, and others like him, when your government tells you that they know better than you. When they minimize the impact of “Red Flag Laws”, and tell you not to become “emotional” over the effects of these laws, know that they are not telling your the whole story.
And pray that others remember when this begins to affect you and your family.
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