A dozen Democrat representatives joined Republicans to support House passage of a veterans’ gun bill Friday that would require a court order to prevent mentally incapacitated veterans from buying a gun.
The bill was passed 240-175 and will now go to the Senate.
About 170,000 veterans are considered mentally incompetent by the VA, according to NPR. Mentally incompetent veterans have a legal guardian to make decisions for them, and currently, these veterans’ names go on a list of people who are prevented from buying guns.
The bill, called the Veterans’ Second Amendment Protection Act, would require a court ruling by a judge or magistrate to add a veteran’s name to the FBI list of those who can’t legally buy guns.
The National Rifle Association supports the bill, but most Democrats, veterans groups, and gun-safety organizations oppose the bill due to concern about suicide rates among veterans, which have already increased 32 percent since 2001, NPR reported.
“Every day in this country, more than 20 veterans commit suicide, and the vast majority use a gun,” said opponent of the bill Rep. Elizabeth Esty of Illinois, The Washington Examiner reported.
Supporter Rep. Phil Roe of Tennessee said the bill would remove bureaucracy, adding that it is important to remove “the stigma of mentally ill people — that because someone is mentally ill, they’re a danger to themselves or others,” NPR reported.
Retired Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the former vice chief of staff for the U.S. Army, pointed out that when people in crisis “separate themselves from personal weapons the incidence of suicide goes down tremendously,” NPR noted.
Opinions on the bill were split on Twitter.
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