An average of 20 veterans commit suicide every day and this epidemic is about to get a whole lot worse. On Thursday, the House passed a bill that allows thousands of veterans “mentally incapacitated, deemed mentally incompetent or experiencing an extended loss of consciousness” to buy guns.
Currently, the VA refers the names of veterans deemed “mentally defective” to the NICS (The National Instant Criminal Background Check System), in effect, blocking them from buying guns.
But the newly passed Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act gives the FBI the power to erase all names currently on the NICS list unless those veterans have been deemed a danger to themselves or others by the court.
The bill’s supporters, including the NRA, argue that the system as it stands encroaches on veteran’s 2nd Amendment rights. Many veteran advocates counter that this argument is destructive and that defense of the bill is “irresponsible, dangerous and life threatening to those who need access to care, not weapons”.
Veterans currently account for 8.5 percent of the U.S. population but result in 18 percent of national deaths by suicide. Seventy percent of those suicides are carried out by firearms. The bill passed in the House 240-175 and now the Senate will have to decide the fate of countless suffering veterans.