Gun Rights Hysteria: PTSD Vets to be Barred from Gun Ownership?

I hadn’t heard about this before today, but apparently some people are pretty steamed about the NICS Improvement Amendments Act. Larry Pratt, the originator of this particular warning, makes some very troubling claims about what he has dubbed “the Veterans Disarmament Act.”

Since these claims, if true, are almost certain to cause a clamor in the Right Blogosphere, and yet no outcry has been heard, I felt compelled to look a little closer. Here’s what Pratt warns:

The Veterans Disarmament Act — which has already passed the House — would place any veteran who has ever been diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) on the federal gun ban list.

That sounds like a serious problem, so I took a closer look at the bill, HR 2640. It turns out that Pratt just flat-out lies about what the bill contains.

In the extended entry area I go through his objection. The short version is: Much. Ado. About. Nothing.

Continue reading


h/t Jahi for sending me the original link to Pratt’s article.

Pratt complains:

(All emphasis in quotes is my own.)

The proposed ban is actually broader. Anyone who is diagnosed as being a tiny danger to himself or others would have his gun rights taken away . . . forever. It is section 102(b)(1)(C)(iv) in HR 2640 that provides for dumping raw medical records into the system. Those names — like the 83,000 records mentioned above — will then, by law, serve as the basis for gun banning.

So I took a look at the cited provision. Section 102(b)(1)(C)(iv) provides that “[a] record that identifies a person who has been adjudicated mentally defective or committed to a mental institution” is a “record” under the act. States who wish to participate in the NICS program must provide 90% of such records to the Attorney General.

But do (C)(iv) records include mere diagnoses of mental disorder as Pratt claims? Of course not. (C)(iv) records are those in which a person has been “adjudicated” or “committed” to a mental institution. To find out what those terms mean, we look to § 3 of the Act which in turn directs us to the federal regulations.

27 CFR 478.11 gives us our answer:

Adjudicated as a mental defective. (a) A determination by a court, board, commission, or other lawful authority that a person, as a result of marked subnormal intelligence, or mental illness, incompetency, condition, or disease:(1) Is a danger to himself or to others; or

(2) Lacks the mental capacity to contract or manage his own affairs.

Doctors’ diagnoses are not an adjudication within the meaning of the federal regulations. Nor are doctors or psychiatrists vested as “lawful authorities” for the purposes of adjudicating mental defectiveness.

“Committed” is similarly defined:

Committed to a mental institution. A formal commitment of a person to a mental institution by a court, board, commission, or other lawful authority. The term includes a commitment to a mental institution involuntarily. The term includes commitment for mental defectiveness or mental illness. It also includes commitments for other reasons, such as for drug use. The term does not include a person in a mental institution for observation or a voluntary admission to a mental institution.

Depending on jurisdiction, mental health adjudications take place in courts or in front of state mental health commissions. In either case, the requirements of due process hold.

This doesn’t stop Pratt from claiming:

But under the Veterans Disarmament Act, “mental defective” has been stretched to include anyone whom a psychiatrist determines might be a tiny danger to himself or others.

That is patently not the case. No language in the Act or in the federal regulations can be construed in this manner.

Pratt goes on:

Now, adjudication in HR 2640 would include a finding by “a court, commission, committee or other authorized person” (namely, a psychiatrist).

There is no indication in the Act or in the federal regs or in caselaw that an “authorized person” for purposes of adjudication of mental defectiveness can be a psychiatrist acting alone and not subject to the due process requirements of a judicial or administrative proceeding.

I’m sorry Jahi; there may be good reasons to oppose this bill, but Larry Pratt hasn’t listed any.

~ by Gabriel Malor on October 1, 2007.

18 Responses to “Gun Rights Hysteria: PTSD Vets to be Barred from Gun Ownership?”

  1. This is insane!

  2. This article demonstrates that PTSD is a factor to be considered seriously.

  3. amazing how i can carry automatic weapons in fallujah iraq and due to my service i suffer from ptsd and i wont be able to carry a firearm in my own country, damn im glad i served.

  4. Whatever you do…
    Don’t EVER talk to a shrink, if
    you’ve served in combat. NOT
    EVER! Talk to the bartender,
    your girlfriend, whatever if you
    need a sounding board; but stay
    the hell away from “professional
    help.” It ain’t worth it!
    So this is what things have come to? God
    Bless America…

    • so it’s better to be a crazy gun-owning alcoholic then to get professional help?

      I got a disability rating for PTSD after serving under 1st Cav in Bagdhad back in OIF2. Since then I’ve moved out of the country where i don’t have to worry about your silly government. I’m much happier now and just married. that’s what talking to a shrink has done for me. By the way, i’ve never personally owned a gun nor do i have the desire to.

      Gun’s are much less available here legally in Mexico, but thanks to you folks north of the border taking drugs and producing guns rather than talking to shrinks, parts of Mexico are more dangerous than some of the hot areas in Afghanistan. Thanks to my military service I don’t get deterred by a few gun shots every now and then.

      Liberal education has taught me that it’s the people who carry the guns that are more likely to be killed by them.

      Mental instability and violent death is a big price to pay just to feel like you have more power so as to compensate for something else that’s lacking.

      • When you said “liberal education” you weren’t kidding. I tell you what, you apply your ideas about guns to yourself down there in mexico, and I’ll stay here in the US and enjoy mine. We’ll both be happy that way.

      • first,thank you for your service to this country. I am truly sorry for your ptsd.
        with that said…I know a lot of veterans that feel it is an affront to what they fought for while serving their country.this is the constitution of the USA they are pissing on in Washington.

  5. So what is the bottom line? can I persue my claim for ptsd with the VA or will I loose my gun rights as a citizen if i do?

  6. The problematic word is “board”. Veterans who have a service connected disability have been before a rating board either in person or at least the paperwork. Does this count in firearms ownership cases? PTSD does disqualify for pilot licenses and CDLs so far as I know. It is considered a personality disorder.
    I don’t know how this will all shake out in the future.
    Vets having problems can get help at a Vet Center without much fear. They can counsel and test but they cannot diagnose.
    PTSD is not something to ignore or try to talk out with your girl/wife or drink away. None of this works. It can kill the victim and has…
    So far as I know no PTSD vets have failed the instant check.

  7. I know of Customs officers who worked at the southwest border for years and were later diagnosed with PTSD. Chasing illegal aliens, drug smugglers, gun smugglers….always being on alert in a heightened sence of alert and/or fear..responding to shooting incidents or port runners in cars ready to run you over…Many armed federal service employees are facing the same loss of gun rights once diagnosed with PTSD. You don’t have to serve in fallujah to be diagnosed with PTSD. That Mexican/U.S border is just as dangerous as an armed Customs officer.

  8. I know of Customs officers who worked at the southwest border for years and were later diagnosed with PTSD. Chasing illegal aliens, drug smugglers, gun smugglers….always being on alert in a heightened sence of alert and/or fear..responding to shooting incidents or port runners in cars ready to run you over…Many armed federal service employees are facing the same loss of gun rights once diagnosed with PTSD. You don’t have to serve in fallujah to be diagnosed with PTSD. That Mexican/U.S border is just as dangerous as being in fallujah in many aspects.

  9. This is a FUBAR situation all around. While congress can take time to pass this they won’t provide immediate funding to the VA for more OEF/OIF- MH support staff.

    What the hell, I served in Iraq and Afghanistan and I can’t hunt now.. or pratice my range shooting (once a Marine Always…).

  10. So the buttom line is: A PTSD vet is not banned from owning a firearm?

  11. That is correct? I got PTSD. I never heard about being banned from owning a gun or being denied to hold a CCW.

    Its all about control. They don’t mind letting you shoot our enemies of the state. Its crazy to disarm PTSD vets. Very disrespectful to our serviceman. So who started this rumor?

  12. I guess all police, firemen, paramedics, e.r.staff, etc. won’t be able to legally own a gun either, due to PTSD issues.

  13. Ive been “diagnosed with ptsd” and never had a problem when the gun shops call in a check, or obtaining my concealed carry permit

  14. if i had ptsd can i uses or keep a gun

  15. I would like to be the first to tell you …. you have been proven wrong

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