House members just passed a bill making it easier for veterans suffering from schizophrenia, PTSD, and depression to get guns.
They voted 240-175 to approve the Veterans Second Amendment Protection act, which will head to the Senate for a vote.
Under current law, veterans deemed “mentally effective” were added by the VA to the National Instant Criminal Background Check system, a database gun owners are legally required to check before selling a firearm.
The new bill would instead ask the courts decide whether or not veterans posed a threat to themselves or others before they’re added to the database.
The bill’s sponsors say the VA was violating veterans’ Second Amendment rights and the current law discouraged veterans from seeking care out of fear they would be added to the list.
“What it says [is] if you can’t balance a bank account, you can’t handle a firearm. There is no relation between the two,” said Rep. Ken Buck, R-Fla., who also spoke in favor of the bill. “So many people have been trapped by this overbroad rule.”
But critics worry this will make it easier for veterans who do pose a threat to themselves or their families to purchase firearms.
“It’s going to result in more deaths, more suicides of veterans throughout this nation,” retired Navy Capt. Mark Kelly said Thursday on a call with various media outlets. “It weakens our background-check system and makes our country a less safe place.”
Kelly is the spouse of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), the congresswoman who was shot in the head and severely injured outside a Tuscon, Arizona supermarket in 2011.
They founded Americans for Responsible Solutions, a gun-control advocacy group, after the incident.
And on Tuesday, a group of former military officials including Gen. Stanley McChrystal, Gen. David Petraeus and Admiral Thad Allen released a joint statement calling the bill “irresponsible,” “dangerous” and “life-threatening.”
President Donald Trump’s administration indicated he would sign the bill into law if it passed in the Senate.
As of late last year, more than 150,000 names were added to the database, which was started in 1998.