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article imageOp-Ed: Veteran's Advocate takes Feinstein to task over PTSD and Gun bans

By Samantha A. Torrence     Mar 10, 2013 in Politics
Senator Feinstein has set off a fire storm of controversy and debate over her remarks at a recent Senate Judiciary Committee meeting that were against expanding the exemption from a gun ban for retired military veterans.
I am a reasonable person and usually can excuse an ignorant statement from an average person because, let's face it, we do not have time to learn all there is to know in this universe. However, when a Senator of the United States makes ignorant remarks concerning policies that would inhibit any of our God given rights in the Bill of Rights I take issue. In a recent Senate Judiciary Committee meeting regarding her proposed gun ban legislation, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) made a statement so ignorant it reminded me of how unimpressive, unprofessional, and dangerous ill-educated people with a high opinion of themselves can be when put into office. If you as a legislator who is entrusted with the future of the United States do not take the time to consider your words and become educated on the topic for which you are addressing you have no business being in your position.
Here is the statement that has caused alarm to not only myself but many in the veteran community including vocal and respected veteran's advocates.
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: If I understand this, this adds an exemption of retired military. As I understand our bill, no issue has arose in this regard during the 10 years the expired ban was in effect and what we did in the other bill was exempt possession by the United States or a department or agency of the United States. So that included active military.
The problem with expanding this is that, you know, with the advent of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), which I think is a new phenomenon as a product of the Iraq War, it’s not clear how the seller or transferrer of a firearm covered by this bill would verify that an individual was a member, or a veteran, and that there was no impairment of that individual with respect to having a weapon like this.
So, you know, I would be happy to sit down with you again and see if we could work something out but I think we have to-- if you’re going to do this, find a way that veterans who are incapacitated for one reason or another mentally don’t have access to this kind of weapon.
Her remarks were in response to a proposed amendment that would exempt military veterans from her gun ban legislation. The exemption was supported by Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas).
Shawn J. Gourley
In response to Feinstein's statement, Shawn J. Gourley a founder of Military with PTSD, issued an open letter that has begun to go viral via social media.
First of all, Senator Feinstein, PTSD is not a, “new phenomenon as a product of the Iraq War.” It has been called soldier’s heart in the Civil War, shell shock in WWI, battle fatigue in WWII, and only most recently, post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. PTSD made its first appearance in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Third Edition, which was published in 1980. The doctors who lobbied for its inclusion viewed it as a measure that would finally legitimize the pain and suffering of Vietnam War veterans. However, adding PTSD to the DSM turned out to be an action with more far-reaching effects than just that population; it opened doors for a lot of people who desperately needed help. PTSD is a psychological reaction that occurs after an extremely stressful event involving the threat of injury or death. Anyone can get PTSD at any age. This includes war veterans, police officers, firemen, and survivors of physical and sexual assault, abuse, accidents, disasters, and many other serious events. So as you can see, Senator, with all due respect, PTSD is not exclusive to either veterans in general or specifically veterans of the Iraq War.
This is only an excerpt and I encourage everyone to read the full letter available on CNN ireport. Shawn's response was professional and tempered considering the ire we all felt when hearing the Senator's comments.
Senator Feinstein missed the meat of many of her points but namely this statement caught my eye.
it’s not clear how the seller or transferrer of a firearm covered by this bill would verify that an individual was a member, or a veteran, and that there was no impairment of that individual with respect to having a weapon like this.
First of all, there is a very easy way to find out if an individual was a member of the armed forces. It is called a DD-214 and I highly doubt any veteran would be opposed to providing that information to a registered firearms broker if it meant they could get certain guns they wish to own. If Feinstein were serious about this, she would put extra personnel and funding into the National Archives to make DD-214s more quickly accessible or, and this is a wild thought, make sure that information is accessible in any background check which are already required by law to receive a gun. Everything she is worried about is already covered by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System or NICS.
Who Cannot Buy a Gun?
Persons who may be prohibited from purchasing a firearm as a result of data obtained from the NICS background check include:
•Convicted felons and people under indictment for a felony
•Fugitives from justice
•Unlawful drug users or drug addicts
•Individuals who have been determined to be mentally incompetent
•Illegal aliens and legal aliens admitted under a non-immigrant visa
•Individuals who have been dishonorably discharged from the military
•Persons who have renounced their American citizenship
•Persons under domestic violence restraining orders
•Persons convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence crimes
Between 2001 and 2011, the FBI reports that over 100 million Brady Act background checks were performed; resulting in more than 700,000 gun purchases being denied.
Secondly, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder does not mean you are automatically incapable of wielding a firearm especially if one is a veteran. Veterans are far more trained to own and properly use a weapon than most of the average population. In Shawn Gourley's letter to Senator Feinstein she points out that some police officers can and do have PTSD. Police officers with PTSD are still working where they are required to use force if the need arises. Being consistent with Senator Feinstein's line of thought would cripple the American police force and is highly unreasonable. In her effort to remove guns from America, it seems she is willing to place civilians in harms way as well as undercut all the efforts and progress Americans have made in helping veterans seek help for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. If PTSD becomes a determining factor in whether or not you can keep your second amendment rights it is quite probable that veterans and many civilians will no longer seek treatment.
The reasons Shawn stated in her letter as well as the reasons I have pointed out are just the tip of the iceberg that demonstrate how far Dianne Feinstein's remarks are from reality.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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