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H.R. 1181, Veterans Second Amendment Protection Act

Floor Situation

On Thursday, March 16, 2017, the House will consider H.R. 1181, the Veterans Second Amendment Protection Act, under a closed rule. H.R. 1181 was introduced on February 16, 2017 by Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN), and was referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, which ordered the bill reported on March 8, 2017 by voice vote.


Summary

H.R. 1181 prohibits the Secretary of Veterans Affairs from sending the name of an individual to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for inclusion on the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, unless there has been a specific determination by a judge, magistrate, or other judiciary authority that such individual is a danger to themselves or others.


Background

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) may appoint a fiduciary if there is evidence that a veteran is unable to manage his or her veterans’ benefits.  In this case, the VA notifies the veterans that the Department proposes to determine the beneficiary is incompetent and may need a fiduciary. The beneficiary has the right to request a hearing.[1]

Such a hearing only reviews evidence that informs a judgment about whether a beneficiary is capable of managing his or her VA benefit payments. The hearing does not address whether a beneficiary presents a danger to themselves or others, or whether the beneficiary should be prohibited from purchasing, possessing, or operating a firearm.[2]

The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 requires federal agencies, upon request of the Attorney General, to submit to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) information on individuals prohibited from purchasing a firearm. The VA has provided information to the FBI about beneficiaries determined to be mentally incompetent because they are unable to manage their finances. According to 38 C.F.R. 3.353, a person is mentally incompetent if because of injury or disease they lack the mental capacity to contract or to manage their own affairs, including disbursement of funds without limitation.[3]

If a beneficiary is found to be barred from purchasing a firearm, the individual may provide for relief from the prohibition. However, a VA employee, not a judge or magistrate, determines whether such relief should be given.[4]

According to the bill’s sponsor, “The freedoms granted by the Constitution should apply to all Americans—especially the men and women who have been willing to risk their lives to protect those freedom. This commonsense bill would ensure no veteran or beneficiary is declared ‘mentally defective’ simply because they utilize a fiduciary.”[5]


Cost

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates enacting H.R. 1181 would have an insignificant effect on the Department of Veteran Affairs’ workload. Implementing the legislation would not affect direct spending or revenues and would not increase net direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2028.


Staff Contact

For questions or further information please contact Jake Vreeburg with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 2-1374.

 

[1] See House Report 115-33 at 2.
[2] Id.
[3] Id.
[4] Id. at 3.
[5] See Chairman Roe’s Press Release, February 16, 2017

115th Congress