Before Sandy Hook, There Was A Fight Over Those With PTSD Owning Guns
Yesterday's tragic shooting at the Navy Yard needs to serve as a stark reminder of a fight that happened last winter in Senate.
By now everyone has heard that Aaron Alexis, the lone gunman that took 13 lives at the Navy Yard yesterday, was a victim of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. We are now starting to see just how bad he was inflicted:
Alexis had been suffering a host of serious mental problems, including paranoia and a sleep disorder, and had been hearing voices in his head, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the criminal investigation was still going on.
He had been treated since August by Veterans Affairs, the officials said.
The Navy had not declared him mentally unfit, which would have rescinded a security clearance Alexis had from his earlier time in the Navy Reserve.
December of 2012 will probably be best remembered for another horrific shooting – the one at Sandy Hook Elementary that left 28 dead, including 20 first grade children. But only a week before that gun control was already in the news. It was in the form of a right-wing spin that made it sound like Democrats didn’t want our veterans to be allowed to own guns, but, as it turned out, was in order to keep mentally ill veterans from owning guns:
Should veterans deemed too mentally incompetent to handle their own financial affairs be prevented from buying a gun?
The issue, for a time last week, threatened to become the biggest sticking point in a $631 billion defense bill for reshaping a military that is disengaging from a decade of warfare.
Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., sought to amend the bill to stop the Veterans Affairs Department from putting the names of veterans deemed too mentally incompetent to handle their finances into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which prohibits them from buying or owning firearms.
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., objected, saying the measure would make it easier for veterans with mental illness to own a gun, endangering themselves and others.
“I love our veterans, I vote for them all the time. They defend us,” Schumer said. “If you are a veteran or not and you have been judged to be mentally infirm, you should not have a gun.”
Currently, the VA appoints fiduciaries, often family members, to manage the pensions and disability benefits of veterans who are declared incompetent. When that happens, the department automatically enters the veteran’s name in the Criminal Background Check System.
To those of us, with some sort of commonsense, this should be a no-brainer. But that does take commonsense, something lacking with most on the right. Instead they turned a sensible piece of legislation into a lie of “Democrats taking guns from soldiers.” Now that we know more about Alexis and how he suffered, perhaps it’s time to revisit that legislation, as well as the failure of our nation’s entire mental health care. This time we need to shutdown the fear mongering liars though and let the grown-ups have that discussion. Sorry Rush, Hannity and the NRA.