Restricting gun ownership for veterans judged mentally ill is a controversial subject that is being debated across our country and even in the halls of Congress. So what are your rights?

Federal law says that if the VA decides a veteran is severely incompetent mentally and appoints a fiduciary—a person to take over their personal affairs, then a prohibiting record is created and sent to the FBI. The FBI enters the veteran’s record in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Having your name in the N-I-B-C-S can prevent you from buying, transporting and owning a firearm.

Unfortunately, because they are worried the government will take away their guns, many veterans are not getting the mental health treatment they really need—especially for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Veterans face many obstacles to treatment for mental health illnesses like PTSD, including long waiting lists for care with the VA and the social stigma of a mental health diagnosis. Nearly half of all veterans own one or more guns, so the fear that seeking treatment for mental problems could result in them having to turnover their firearms has become another barrier to getting much needed help. The VA says that this fear is unfounded. Your guns will NOT be taken away just because of a diagnosis of a condition like PTSD.

It is unclear where the threshold is that could lead the VA to declare a veteran mentally incompetent. The VA says that determination is not directly connected to any single diagnosis. But any way you look at it, this remains a murky, complicated, and controversial issue.

If you believe your VA disability rights and benefits have been restricted or limited, or just want a free evaluation of your VA disability case, call us at Cuddigan Law where you have a team of professionals in your corner who will fight for your rights.


Sean D. Cuddigan
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SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska