Monthly Archives: March 2017

Costello & Meehan OK guns for Mentally Ill Vets

by Tom Buglio

The country is divided –on so many issues, guns being a perfect example. As someone who advocates for gun violence reduction, it has been a real struggle to find any common ground with gun rights advocates. I was hoping that keeping guns out of the hands of those with mental problems could be one of those areas; especially after the tragic and highly publicized shootings such as Aurora, Newtown and Tucson. All three are examples of someone with a mental illness using a firearm with tragic consequences. Surely, we can all agree that people who are mentally unstable, unbalanced, or with a full blown diagnosis of mental illness should not have access to a gun?

US Reps Costello and Meehan apparently do not think so.

President Bush signed a bill after the Virginia Tech tragedy where 32 people were gunned down by a mentally disturbed student in 2007, that required all federal agencies, including the VA, to submit names of people in their care to the National Instant Background Check (NICS) prohibited list when deemed too dangerous to own a gun.

This week’s successful vote on HR1181 – Vet’s 2nd Amendment Protection Act, will effectively cancel this law, and demonstrates once again that our Republican Congress does the bidding of the NRA, to the detriment of the safety of the Veterans and their families. This bill will restore gun rights to 170,000 Vets who may pose a serious danger to themselves and others. Let’s look at the facts:

*20 Vets commit suicide every day
*15,000 Vets who have severe PTSD will get their gun rights restored (DLN 3/23/17)
*19,000 Vets who have schizophrenia will get their gun rights restored (DLN 3/23/17)
*Vets have up to a 61% higher risk of suicide than the general public
*14 retired admirals and generals, including David Petraeus, sent a letter to Congress urging them against this bill

Supporters of the bill state that no ‘government bureaucrat’ should take a constitutional right away from vets, and have a provision for petitioning a judge to determine if a vet should loose their gun rights.

The ‘bureaucrats’ are actually medical professionals, psychologists and psychiatrists, who are in the best position to make the call on whether a Vet is a danger to himself.

I am disappointed in US Rep. Costello and Meehan, who talk a good game caring about vets and their well- being.

In a 2015 speech, Rep. Costello called for more awareness about suicide risk and PTSD among veterans. But a speech is just words, and as we can see in his vote, actions speak louder. It is really unfortunate that our Republican US Reps find it easier to support the gun rights agenda than the safety and care that our veterans so desperately need, and richly deserve.

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Stand your ground in Florida?

Planning to visit Florida? You may want to be aware that the state is set to make it even easier for residents to shoot other people and claim self-defense.

In these scenarios, it often seems the gun violence victim has been victimized twice: once by the shooter and once by the State of Florida, which is more interested in allowing people to feel free to shoot another person rather than choosing to walk away.

See “Florida Poised to Strengthen ‘Stand Your Ground’ Defense” by LIZETTE ALVAREZ, New York Times, MARCH 15, 2017

Federal Legislation: Call and ask your Congressional Rep to OPPOSE HR 1181.

What:

HR 1181 — would undo the Veterans Administration Process that leads to some military veterans being put on the prohibited gun purchaser list. The bill would also remove more than 170,000 names from the existing list.

Why:

Every day, 22 U.S. Veterans commit suicide; double the rate for the civilian population.

The majority of these suicides are committed with guns.

To help keep veterans safe, for almost 20 years, the VA has submitted records of vets it deems mentally incompetent (following a judicial review) to the National Background Check System (NICS).

This system includes a process for the veteran to challenge the mental competence determination both before and after the determination and record submission.

The current system protects our vets and protects our citizens . We should keep it in place.

Need congressional contact info? Find your representative here.

The NRA Targets the “Left”

While we have long been concerned about the National Rifle Association’s advocacy, during the past week they have taken things to an entirely new level.

While attending the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre and the NRA launched a “counter-resistance..” The NRA is threatening violence against citizen dissenters — “the violent left.” This rhetoric essentially lays the groundwork for armed conflict within the U.S. based on differences in political philosophy.

Please take a moment to watch the Feb. 20 promotional video.

Here is a video of LaPierre’s full speech posted Feb. 24.

The CCCPGV is dedicated to working toward common sense gun control in a non-partisan fashion. However, we believe it is important to “call out” dangerous rhetoric about the deployment of guns no matter what political viewpoint is under attack.

This Feb. 24 blog post by Coalition StopGun Violence provides additional coverage of the event.