The Senate passed an amendment introduced by Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., that protects veterans’ Second Amendment rights if the Department of Veterans Affairs steps in to manage their financial benefits.
The Senate voted 53 to 45 Wednesday in approval of the amendment.
“Veterans who sacrificed to defend our Constitution shouldn’t see their own rights rest on the judgment of unelected bureaucrats—but right now, they do,” Kennedy told Fox News Digital on Wednesday.
“My amendment would prevent government workers from unduly stripping veterans of their right to bear arms. Every veteran who bravely serves our country has earned VA benefits, and it’s wrong for the government to punish veterans who get a helping hand to manage those resources.”
Under current law, the Department of Veterans Affairs reports a veteran’s name to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System when they seek help managing their finances in a conservatorship.
“If a veteran who defended this country has to go to the VA and ask for help managing his or her financial affairs, the VA automatically reports that veteran to the FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System . . . and that veteran loses his firearm,” Kennedy said on the floor of the Senate Wednesday. “Automatically. No due process.”
The amendment was spearheaded by Kennedy and fellow Republican Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas, who championed the measure in June as one that would “would prevent government workers from unduly stripping veterans of their right to bear arms.”
“All our amendment would do, would be able would be to say: The VA, just because you’ve asked for help with your money, can not automatically take away your firearm or report you to [the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System] unless a judge has ruled that that veteran is a danger to himself or to others,” Kennedy said on the Senate floor Wednesday.
The executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, the gun rights group’s lobbying arm, applauded the amendment’s passage and Sens. Kennedy and Moran for leading the charge on the bill.
“The men and women who volunteer to defend the Constitution deserve to be protected by the same Constitution for which they risk life and limb,” NRA-ILA Executive Director Randy Kozuch exclusively told Fox News Digital Wednesday.
“It is a national embarrassment that anti-gun bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., have gotten away with unilaterally stripping veterans of their rights for decades. On behalf of millions of NRA members, many of whom are veterans, we applaud Senators Kennedy and Moran for leading on this important issue,” Kozuch continued.
Democratic Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy argued against the amendment Wednesday, claiming it would arm “mentally incompetent” veterans and lead to “a death sentence for scores of deeply mentally ill veterans.”
The passage comes after Kennedy said last week that he had struck a deal with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on the amendment after holding up the bill funding the departments of Veterans Affairs, Agriculture, Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and military construction, the Hill previously reported.
“The original position was they wanted me to pull my amendment down, and I said ‘No,’” he told the Hill.