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May 20, 2022

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Grassley demands VA protect veterans’ Second Amendment rights

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Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa published a letter to the Department of Veterans Affairs Friday demanding data to ensure servicemen are not being unfairly stripped of their Second Amendment rights.

Grassley wrote the letter to request insight and data on veterans who are reported to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). 

“I take the fundamental nature of the Second Amendment very seriously, and when our veterans’ right to own and possess firearms is at issue, the government must ensure that constitutional due process is followed,” Grassley wrote in his statement.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, speaks during testimony from Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett on the third day of her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill Oct. 14, 2020, in Washington, D.C.
(Susan Walsh/pool/AFP via Getty Images)

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“According to the FBI, as of December 31, 2020, 97.9% of all names reported to the NICS list’s ‘mental defective’ category by federal agencies were provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) even though reporting requirements apply to all federal agencies,” Grassley explained.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, left, listens as Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, speaks during Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington March 23, 2022.
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Placement on the NICS virtually guarantees the individual will not be allowed to buy a gun. Grassley contends many veterans placed on the list are not a risk to themselves or others. 

“As you are aware, when veterans are appointed a fiduciary to receive their VA benefits, they are deemed ineligible to receive or possess firearms or ammunition under the determination that they are now considered adjudicated mental defective for purposes of federal law,” the senator added.

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The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs building in Washington, D.C., July 22, 2019. 
(Alastair Pike/AFP via Getty Images)

Grassley demanded dozens of data points in his letter, including VA referrals to the NICS and the rate of requests for removal from the list.

Second Amendment rights of veterans in the VA care system have been a signature focus of Grassley’s since 2015.