BELLEVUE, WA â€“ The Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA) today agreed with Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn that there is a serious flaw in H.R. 327 â€“ the so-called Joshua Omvig Veteransâ€™ Suicide Prevention Act â€“ that could ultimately prevent military veterans from exercising the Second Amendment rights they have fought to defend.
The problem, as pointed out by Sen. Coburn, a doctor by profession, is that â€œit preconditions health care for veterans on mental health screening.â€ That is, a veteran seeking treatment for any condition, including a common cold or flu, must first undergo a comprehensive mental health screening.
â€œSenator Coburn thinks thatâ€™s absurd, and so do we,â€ said CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb. â€œNobody should be subjected to that kind of humiliation. Right now, there is a huge debate over legislation to improve the National Instant Check System records that would ostensibly allow some 80,000 veterans, whose private medical records were arbitrarily shared with the Justice Department by the Clinton Administration in 1999, to get relief from that gun rights â€˜disability.â€™ Senator Coburn recalled in an open letter on Sept. 5 that this records sharing was â€˜an effort to prohibit the purchasing of firearms by veterans who had been diagnosed as having mental health concerns at one point in their lives.â€™ Anybody whoâ€™s ever seen combat might have had some stressful moments, but thatâ€™s no reason to deny them their constitutional rights.â€
Added CCRKBA Executive Director Mark A. Taff: â€œSenator Coburn properly believes there should be an â€˜opt-outâ€™ provision in this legislation allowing veterans to forego such screenings. Going through a screening ought to be up to the individual and his or her family, not some bureaucrat, and certainly not a one-size-fits-all legislative mandate.â€
â€œDemocrats have criticized Senator Coburn over his stubbornness,â€ Gottlieb noted, â€œwhich suggests that once again, theyâ€™re trying to push a back-door scheme to deny an ever-increasing number of Americans their firearm civil rights. Democrats simply cannot overcome their partyâ€™s well-established gun control agenda.
â€œDemocrats insist they support gun rights,â€ Gottlieb concluded. â€œDeleting this mental health screening requirement would be a sensible first step toward proving it.â€