CSGV Statement: House Committee Reports Bill That Could Increase Risk of Veteran Suicide
Confusion Surrounding HR 1181 Highlights Need For Further Debate
WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 8, 2017) – This morning, Congressional Republicans took steps towards fulfilling a legislative priority on the National Rifle Association (NRA)’s to-do list. The House Committee on Veterans Affairs reported HR 1181, a bill that could ultimately result in the automatic restoration of firearms to tens of thousands of veterans who have been determined mentally incompetent and assigned a fiduciary to handle their benefits.
Members on boths sides of the aisle have acknowledged past flaws in the fiduciary process the Department of Veterans Affairs used to enter veterans into the National Instant Background Checks System (NICS). However, many of those concerns were addressed three months ago in the bipartisan passage of the 21st Century Cures Act when members of both parties came to a compromise that provided far more due process and notice to veterans assigned fiduciaries.
Coalition to Stop Gun Violence Executive Director Josh Horwitz issued the following statement:
“There are several critically important questions that have not yet been answered regarding HR 1181. During today’s hearing, Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN) stated that this bill would not affect those already in the NICS system. Many of us, including Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty, were under the impression that HR 1181 could apply retroactively. Indeed, retroactive application is a major concern for veterans’ safety. The confusion surrounding this bill illustrates exactly why a hearing is needed. Instead of hastily pushing the NRA’s wishlist through Congress with no questions asked, Chairman Roe and House Republicans should honor these veterans by doing their due diligence.
If members of Congress are serious about combating the high number of veteran suicides, they did not show it today. Rather than working towards a bipartisan solution, Republicans are attempting to railroad intentionally vague legislation through Congress without an adequate hearing. Their ultimate goal seems to be the blanket restoration of gun rights regardless of whether or not these veterans are at a heightened risk of dangerousness. By rushing HR 1181, lawmakers show they are more interested in carrying water for the gun lobby than protecting the lives of American heroes.”
HR 1181 will now move to the House floor for a full vote.
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