On Thursday night, the House passed a bill allowing thousands of veterans who are “mentally incapacitated, deemed mentally incompetent, or experiencing an extended loss of consciousness” (i.e., blackouts) to buy guns — a measure could make America’s veteran suicide epidemic even worse, according to veteran advocates and mental health researchers.
Currently, the VA refers the names of veterans who are deemed “mentally defective” to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, which blocks them from buying weapons.
Veterans may be added to this list for a number of reasons. The VA designates someone as “mentally defective” if they receive monetary benefits to deal with mental health issues or if they need a fiduciary to manage their finances. The VA needs to have clear and convincing evidence that veterans placed on the list meet the federal standard for gun prohibition, and if the individuals disagree, they can appeal the VA’s designation.
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