How Red Flag Laws Can Be Misused

The American Thinker posted an article today about a move during the Obama administration to deny gun rights to veterans and senior citizens.

The article reports:

The Obama administration’s idea of keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill was based on a bizarre and discriminatory definition of who might be mentally unstable. In 2013 it was reported that the Veterans Administration was sending letters to vets warning them that they might be declared mentally incompetent and denied their Second Amendment rights unless they could prove otherwise:

The contempt by the Obama administration for our Constitution and our rights has reached a new low with news the Veterans Administration has begun sending letters to veterans telling them they will be declared mentally incompetent and stripped of the Second Amendment rights unless they can prove to unnamed bureaucrats to the contrary…

“A determination of incompetency will prohibit you from purchasing, possessing, receiving, or transporting a firearm or ammunition. If you knowingly violate any of these prohibitions, you may be fined, imprisoned, or both pursuant to the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, Pub.L.No. 103-159, as implemented at 18, United States Code 924(a)(2),” the letter reads…

While mental health is a factor in the current gun control debate and recent mass shootings in Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo., and elsewhere have in common the questionable mental state of the shooters, to single out returning vets from Iraq and Afghanistan this way is unconscionable and unconstitutional.

As the Los Angeles Times has reported, the Obama administration would have liked like to make our Social Security records part of the background check system. The move would have stripped some four million Americans who receive payments though a “representative payee” of their gun rights. It would be the largest gun grab in U.S. history.

A potentially large group within Social Security are people who, in the language of federal gun laws, are unable to manage their own affairs due to “marked subnormal intelligence, or mental illness, incompetency, condition, or disease.”

There is no simple way to identify that group, but a strategy used by the Department of Veterans Affairs since the creation of the background check system is reporting anyone who has been declared incompetent to manage pension or disability payments and assigned a fiduciary.

The article concludes:

Keeping guns out of the hands of the truly mentally unstable is a worthy goal, but it should not be used as a cause for disarming veterans who carried a weapon in defense of their country or seniors who might need some assistance in paying their bills.

They deserve the presumption of innocence, and sanity, every bit as much as Vester Flanagan. Stripping away their Second Amendment rights in the name of mental health would be a gross injustice that would not make us safer, but would merely create millions of unarmed victims for the next shooter with an agenda.

We need to make sure that American citizens understand our Constitution and Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights is there to limit the rights of government–not the rights of citizens. If we want to preserve our republic, we have to continue to fight to protect those rights our Founding Fathers codified in the Constitution and The Bill of Rights.

Revising The Rules Of Government

Fox News reported yesterday that the Senate has passed a bill to make it easier to fire employees of the Veterans Administration (VA). The bill is the result of complaints of long waiting times and the fact that the VA is simply not doing a good job of caring for many of our veterans. Part of that is due to the aging of the Vietnam veterans and their health problems, part of it is due to the large numbers of wounded veterans returning from war in the Middle East, and part of the problem is morale and efficiency among VA employees.

The article reports:

The bipartisan measure passed by voice vote. It comes more than three years after a 2014 scandal at the Phoenix VA medical center, where some veterans died while waiting months for appointments. VA employees created secret lists to cover up delays.

The bill would lower the burden of proof needed to fire employees — from a “preponderance” to “substantial evidence,” allowing a dismissal even if most evidence is in a worker’s favor.

The American Federation of Government Employees, the largest federal employee union, opposed the bill. But the measure was viewed as more in balance with workers’ rights than a version passed by the House in March, mostly along party lines. The Senate bill calls for a longer appeal process than the House’s version — 180 days vs. 45 days — though workers would not be paid during that appeal. VA executives also would be held to a tougher standard than rank-and-file employees.

The bill now goes back to the House, where the revisions are expected to be approved.

The changes in the rules for firing employees need to take place in all areas of government. The bureaucracy of government has become bloated and inefficient. If we are ever going to get federal spending under control, we need to look at the size and efficiency of government. Changing the rules for firing employees who are not performing is a good place to start.

Quote Of The Week

It’s only Monday, and I already have the quote of the week from The Washington Examiner:

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald on Monday compared the length of time veterans wait to receive health care at the VA to the length of time people wait for rides at Disneyland, and said his agency shouldn’t use wait times as a measure of success because Disney doesn’t either.

“When you got to Disney, do they measure the number of hours you wait in line? Or what’s important? What’s important is, what’s your satisfaction with the experience?” McDonald said Monday during a Christian Science Monitor breakfast with reporters. “And what I would like to move to, eventually, is that kind of measure.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan tweeted out the appropriate response:

“This is not make-believe, Mr. Secretary. Veterans have died waiting in those lines.”

 

 

Taking Care Of Their Own????

The Daily Caller posted an article today about the Master Agreement between the Veteran’s Administration (VA) and the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE). It is a truly amazing agreement.

The article reports:

The Master Agreement between the VA and the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) states, “Prior to considering candidates from outside the bargaining unit, the department agrees to first consider internal candidates for selection … in all cases … first and full consideration shall be given to any best qualified candidates within the facility.”

Veterans are supposed to get “preference points” against other applicants under federal civil service hiring rules. At the VA, such points are apparently negated by a hard-and-fast rule that a job can’t go to anyone unless no qualified union member wants it.

The Veterans Employment Opportunities Act (VEOA) also allows vets to apply for jobs that are otherwise only open to current employees. Thanks to the union contract, it is futile for them to apply — at least for plum positions — because the VA must consider union members first.

This is an example of another government agency that has lost its purpose.

The article goes on to explain that many of the good jobs in the VA are not open to veterans.

The article reports the comments of a whistleblower:

Ryan Honl, a veteran who worked at the VA hospital in Tomah, Wisc. before becoming a whistleblower by telling Congress about the mistreatment he witnessed in the facility, told TheDNCF that “VA’s first objective was to originally ‘care for those who have borne the battle.’ Today, the VA’s original mission has become secondary. Its primary mission is now to serve bureaucrats and those in power” by sustaining high-paying administrative jobs for civilians.

Since Honl voiced his concerns, VA employees have threatened to sue and discredit him. They even by made his personal medical information public.

It’s time to clean up our government.

In an article posted in July 2014, The New York Times posted the following:

“It is impossible to bargain collectively with the government.”

That wasn’t Newt Gingrich, or Ron Paul, or Ronald Reagan talking. That was George Meany — the former president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O — in 1955. Government unions are unremarkable today, but the labor movement once thought the idea absurd.

The founders of the labor movement viewed unions as a vehicle to get workers more of the profits they help create. Government workers, however, don’t generate profits. They merely negotiate for more tax money. When government unions strike, they strike against taxpayers. F.D.R. considered this “unthinkable and intolerable.”

Cleaning up our government is going to involve getting unions out of the public sector.

This Is A Great Place To Cut The Federal Budget

The Daily Caller posted a story today about Veteran’s Administration (VA) Secretary Robert McDonald’s policy regarding bonuses to employees.

The article reports:

For 2014, employees received a total of $140 million in performance awards. Almost 50 percent of the 340,000 workers at the VA took home bonuses. The sheer number of employees awarded has raised questions about low-bar performance standards.

Regardless, McDonald was quick to justify the bonuses in an op-ed in USA Today. First, the bonuses covered the time period of October 2013 to September 2014, meaning that they are not based on current scandals. Second, bonuses play a large role in retaining talent. Third, the huge majority of the 156,000 workers who did receive bonuses definitely put veterans first.

I don’t want to see the VA budget cut in the areas that provide services to veterans, but it seems to me that bonuses at this particular time might be a little over the top.

The article includes a few illustrations of how bad things are:

Kim Graves, a regional benefits director in St. Paul, who recently pleaded the Fifth Amendment at a congressional hearing, received an $8,700 bonus.

Dr. David Houlihan, infamously known as the Candy Man at the Tomah VA, took home a bonus fo $4,000 10 months before he was fired from his post.

We need accountability in government spending. This sort of thing is unacceptable. Congress needs to do a better job of oversight.