By Jeff Knox
Buckeye, AZ –-(Ammoland.com)- We all know that Gabby Giffords was injured in a murderous attack by a deranged Democrat activist.
We know that she suffered serious brain trauma and needed more than a year to regain even partial mobility and speech. We also know that she has staged a remarkable recovery becoming the figurehead of a gun control operation started by her husband, Mark Kelly. Rep. Giffords and Capt. Kelly often point out that they are not anti-gun and make show of buying, owning, and shooting guns.
Since we know all of that about Gabby Giffords, let me tell you about someone you don’t know; or maybe you do. We’ll call him Larry to protect his privacy. As with so many working-class American gun owners, Larry is a patriot, and when others were burning draft cards, he volunteered for the US Army. He suffered a traumatic brain injury from grenade shrapnel in Vietnam and, like Gabby, had to relearn simple things like walking, talking, and feeding himself. He never completely recovered, and the couple made due with Larry’s small disability pension and what his wife earned cleaning other people’s houses. One of his few joys has been getting out into nature and hunting – for the solitude he finds, and for meat – or just tinkering and plinking.
Age and health issues caught up with Larry’s wife a few years ago, putting the family in crisis. Larry’s VA benefits advisor told them that they could get more help from the government based on problems Larry was having managing their money. By agreeing that Larry was unable to handle his financial affairs, and having his wife appointed fiduciary for him, his disability payment would go up by an extra thousand dollars a month.
The couple grasped at the opportunity. A few weeks later I got a tearful call from Larry and his wife, looking for my advice. A letter had arrived from the VA informing them that Larry’s disability status was being upgraded. Then the letter said that Larry’s name would be forwarded to the FBI for inclusion in the National Instant Check System as someone who is “mentally incompetent,” and that he would be prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition. The VA advised that all firearms and ammunition in the home must be removed, and that ever allowing Larry to have access to a firearm or ammunition would be a federal felony.
No one suggested that Larry is a danger to himself or anyone else. No one suggested that he is violent or unstable, or that anyone in the world will be safer or better off if Larry is not allowed to have access to firearms, but in order to get the help they needed, Larry must lose his right to arms for the rest of his life.
Larry and his wife asked me for a way around the firearms restriction. They wondered if they could just say that Larry’s guns belonged to his wife so they could keep them and Larry could keep doing what he loved. They wanted me to tell them that the VA couldn’t legally take away his gun rights, or that the prohibition only applies to purchases.
But I couldn’t tell them any of those things. I advised them to consult an attorney, and told them that under my layman’s understanding of the law, Larry would be considered exactly the same as a violent felon, and that all guns and ammunition must be stored in a way that Larry never had access them. I also had to tell them that anyone who let Larry shoot a gun at the range or in a hunting stand would be committing a felony, as would Larry himself. I desperately wish it weren’t true, but that’s what the law currently says.
I never saw or heard from Larry or his wife again. I don’t know what decision they ultimately made. I suspect they took the disability and hid the guns, choosing to be criminals and hoping they wouldn’t get caught, but I don’t know. What I do know is that they should never have been put in that position.
The law – and the way it is applied by the VA – is simply wrong.
When I see Gabby Giffords doing a photo-op at a gun store or range, I am thankful for her remarkable recovery, and I’m glad for her ability to enjoy her fundamental rights, even if she is just doing it to further the cause of restricting mine. But I can’t help thinking of Larry, and wondering whether Gabby and Mark would be so free and public about their gun ownership if Gabby had been dependent on VA medical care and disability payments.
Over 100,000 veterans have lost their gun rights, not because they’re dangerous, but because they’re damaged. Their sacrifices for our rights have cost them theirs. I wonder if Gabby ever thinks about that when she’s calling for more background checks and more people to be added to the NICS “prohibited persons” database?
©2014 The Firearms Coalition, all rights reserved. Reprinting, posting, and distributing permitted with inclusion of this copyright statement. www.FirearmsCoalition.org.
The Firearms Coalition is a loose-knit coalition of individual Second Amendment activists, clubs and civil rights organizations. Founded by Neal Knox in 1984, the organization provides support to grassroots activists in the form of education, analysis of current issues, and with a historical perspective of the gun rights movement. The Firearms Coalition is a project of Neal Knox Associates, Manassas, VA. Visit: www.FirearmsCoalition.org