VA Screening Vets to Take Away Concealed Carry Permits

Jun 09 2009

BotB Verdict
close_enough
Average Number of Times Received Daily at MOAA: 5


“Who would cross the Bridge of Death must answer me these questions three, ere the other side he see.”
- Monty Python and the Holy Grail


Summary

Another viral email about President Obama taking away your guns, this time focused on veterans and VA screening. The story is probably a shadow of an anecdote that was altered for political purposes, but there is no truth to the statement attributed to the nurse in the email below. The volume in this email is rivaling another that we’re working on for a later article regarding a $50 tax penalty for gun owners (which is also clever bilge).


The Most Common Email

U.S. Military Vets being disarmed!
The U.S. Veterans Administration has been instructed by the Department of Homeland Security to ask military vets 3 questions when they come in for any kind of medical check-up or problem. Answering “Yes” to any single question will result in the vet being disarmed by the government.

The following e-mail was sent to the [blank] by a Vietnam Veteran. His identity is being concealed to prevent reprisals.

I had a doctors appointment at the local VA clinic yesterday and found something very interesting I would like to pass along.. While going through triage before seeing the doctor, I was asked at the end of the exam, three questions.

(1. Did I feel stressed?)
(2. Did I feel threatened?)
(3. Did I feel like doing harm to someone?)

The nurse then informed me, if I had answered yes to any of the questions, I would have lost my concealed carry permit as it would have gone into my medical records and the VA would have reported it to Homeland Security. I am a Viet Nam vet and 15 year cc permit holder. Looks like they are going after us vets.” Be forewarned and be aware. If you are a veteran, you’ve been warned.


Origins

Unclear. There are a few variations of the email going through the web and scattered across message boards. The earliest web indexed article regarding the email is from May 17, 2009 and it was the TruthorFiction article that clearly carried a ‘Fiction’ verdict.


Evaluation & Commentary

There are many logical problems with this email (tip of the hat to VA Watchdog for some crucial details, and if they are calling Bilge on a VA matter you can take it to the bank):

  • The first line gives the wrong name for the VA, a dead giveaway from the start. The U.S. Veterans Administration is not the name of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
  • The DVA is strict in upholding patient/doctor confidentiality, and does not report information to the Department of Homeland Security unless there’s been a commission of a crime. Being stressed, feeling threatened and having thoughts of harming others are not crimes by any stretch of legalities.
  • DHS has no bearing on whether or not a concealed carry permit is issued. Depending on state laws it is the responsibility of the state, county or city of residence of the citizen.
  • There is no record of DHS asking DVA to ask these questions, and even if they did, the DVA is an independent cabinet position and not under the jurisdiction of DHS.
  • The lack of any good specifics, such as a location, person, etc…
  • These are questions that veterans of combat are routinely asked during examinations to look for signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and they’ve been a part of screening for longer than Obama has been president.

For further details of the realities of gun control in the Obama era, please read our own analysis, found here. There have not been any significant changes to the situation since that article was written.


Further Reading/Tools

Truth or Fiction Page
VA Watchdog
Message Board Example


You Can Help

Remember that forwarding a message you read but are unsure of without checking the available resources helps contribute to the Bilge. Help us battle it, and if you haven’t seen us write one of them up, email it to us here.

11 responses so far

11 Responses to “VA Screening Vets to Take Away Concealed Carry Permits”

  1. Juliaon 04 Jul 2009 at 1:52 pm

    I am not a Military Officer, nor am I a Vet. I found this site in an effort to verify or dismiss this exact email. I felt it important to take a moment to leave a comment regarding this and so much other ‘bilge’ that circulates the internet and finds the way to so many in boxes of which it appears more folks seem to promote rather than attempt to verify the accusations. So many REAL issues are facing our country that should be addressed, that are not being addressed, yet this sort of rumor-spreading abounds. Perhaps our time would be better spent organizing ourselves as ordinary, patriotic US Citizens, Vets, and Military Officers in an effort to address and seek solutions to those real threats rather than wasting bandwidth and encouraging the spread of such idiocy. To me, it seems to be of little or no effort to make that attempt to verify something that I wish to put my name to as credible, as opposed to just clicking the forward and send buttons and join the masses who apparently have little or no concern with actual facts. I commend this site and appreciate this site in encouraging and urging others to verify before hitting that send button.

  2. Frankon 22 May 2010 at 11:06 am

    While I don’t challenge your conclusion, I find the reasoning faulty. The correct name of the cabinet is not relevant. I’m old enough to remember when it was the U.S. Veterans Administration and I often still call it that.

    Also, the arguments that DHS and the DVA are separate departments and the DVA does not give info to the other departments are ludicrous. They all will do exactly what the WH orders them to do. Its been that way since 1789 and it hasn’t changed with BHO.

  3. Michelleon 26 Aug 2010 at 1:46 pm

    As a physician with the VA, I can tell you that these have long been standard questions to screen for PTSD and for treatment needs in general at the VA. The answers are not reported to anyone, anywhere except to the veteran’s doctor, nurse or social worker. The answers do go in the medical record, but are not released to anyone outside the VA. Confidentiality applies to all medical records at the VA and is taken very seriously. In the past I have had patients make written threats to the president and when the Secret Service shows up to determine the credibility of the threats, we still cannot talk to them without the patient’s consent. When patients at the VA are placed on involuntary commitment for dangerousness to self or others, the VA does not report this to the police or local government, much less the DHS.

  4. Matton 31 Aug 2010 at 7:58 am

    Thanks, Michelle, I appreciate the insider clarification.

  5. Mikeon 15 Oct 2010 at 8:10 am

    Michelle,
    I tend to not believe that the VA is not bound to tell law enforcement about a threat to another person. The following was taken from a HIPPA Notice of Privacy Practices.

    For Public Safety: We may use or disclose your Health Information in order to prevent or lessen a serious and imminent threat to the health or safety of a particular person or the general public.
    To Aid Specialized Government Functions: If necessary, we may use or disclose your Health Information for military or national security purposes.

    The following was taken directly from the VA Website at

    http://www1.va.gov/vhapublications/ViewPublication.asp?pub_ID=1090

    Health and Safety Activities. We may use or disclose your health information when necessary
    to prevent or lessen a serious threat to the health and safety of the public, yourself, or another
    person. Any disclosure would only be to someone able to help prevent or lessen the harm, such
    as a law enforcement agency or the person threatened. You will be notified in writing if any
    such disclosure has been made by a VHA health care facility.

    Please do not pee on this VET and tell him it is raining, I know the difference.

    VETS, do the smart thing, invoke your right to remain silent!

  6. Mikeon 15 Oct 2010 at 8:57 am

    Also, read the NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007 that REQUIRES anyone adjudicated as mentally defective to report it to the Feds.

    Please do not pee on this VET and tell him it is raining, I know the difference.

  7. spinununon 20 Dec 2010 at 1:30 am

    “There are a few variations of the email going through the web and scattered across message boards. The earliest web indexed article regarding the email is from May 17, 2009 and it was the TruthorFiction article that clearly carried a ‘Fiction’ verdict.”
    You can see more about that?

  8. Larry Granton 23 Jun 2011 at 10:39 am

    I’m amazed, though I shouldn’t be, at the weak reasoning accepted by TruthorFiction to falsify this out of hand.

    I agree with Frank that the name of the agency in this context is irrelevant and may be simply the error of someone not intimately familiar with or interested in bureaucratic naming conventions. “A rose is a rose…” as I recall.

    As for Doc Michelle, I’m not impressed that these have long been included in PTSD questionnaires. Innovative people often find new uses for old questions and the associated information, as any good researcher or investigator could tell her. Besides, we were informed in the last month that military medical records are now in electronic form in all military hospitals. (http://www.informationweek.com/news/healthcare/EMR/230800179)

    How soon (if it hasn’t already) before the information in that system is migrated automatically to the VA to permit ‘greater efficiencies’ in care and treatment? And how soon do we discover a ‘need’ for other agencies like the FBI, DHS, etc, to access those records in the normal course of their investigative business? Or how soon before it’s just hacked?

    Other points are equally weak. For example, to say that the “DHS has no bearing on whether or not a concealed carry permit is issued” flies in the face of evidence to the contrary. Can anyone say with absolute certainty that the National Instant Criminal Background Check System does not touch DHS anywhere?

    Let me suggest that if you can now, you soon won’t be able to do so. I point to H.R. 2159, the Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2009/10.

    The proposal, which did not become law, would have prohibited anyone on the terror watch list from purchasing firearms and given the Attorney General the discretion to deny any firearm license to an individual who is suspected to be involved in terrorist activity.

    Now no one wants terrorists or criminals to get guns (unless they’re buying from the ATF-see http://www.cspan.org/Events/Fast-and-Furious-a-Catastrophic-Disaster/10737422274-2/) but the law mandated a formal connection between the FBI (owners of the watch list) and DHS, that would have given DHS a veto on gun purchases.

    Oh, wait. That connection already exists. From the DHS website: “The terrorist watchlist is maintained by the Terrorist Screening Center (TSC), which is administered by the FBI, U.S. Department of Justice, in cooperation with the departments of Homeland Security, Defense, State and Treasury, and the Central Intelligence Agency.”

    So, “Depending on state laws it is the responsibility of the state, county or city of residence of the citizen” to regulate gun ownership except that all those local agencies depend on the Federal agencies to provide the basic criteria for their decision. Or do you imagine your local sheriff will give you that permit when your name pops on the list?

    Finally, “There is no record of DHS asking DVA to ask these questions….” True, but as noted earlier, so what? The information is there. A use can (and likely) will be found.

    Our only hope seems to lie in bureaucratic stove-piping: “even if they did, the DVA is an independent cabinet position and not under the jurisdiction of DHS.” Unless they are told to cooperate in the interests of national security, that is.

    TruthorFiction (and MOAA), please upgrade your reasoning chip. The one you have now is flawed.

  9. Jim Walteron 29 Jan 2012 at 7:11 am

    Each of your points is faulty, and I’ll explain why.

    1. So the email in question got the name of the Veterans Administration wrong. Big deal. If you’re going to discount the email for this, then you’re grasping at straws, and it weakens your entire argument, which, IMO, is weak to begin with.

    2. Your point that the DVA is strict in its adherence to patient-doctor confidentiality, and does not report information to the DHS is ludicrous. Yeah, right. We’re the government. You can trust us.

    3. You claim the DHS has no influence on whether or not local governments issue gun permits. This is simply false. If there is a DHS report out there that John Doe has problems with stress and wants to harm people, you can damn well bet it will influence local governments in their decision as to whether or not to issue a gun permit to John Doe. The fact that you actually believe otherwise is testimony to your naivete.

    4. You say, “There is no record of DHS asking DVA to ask these questions, and even if they did, the DVA is an independent cabinet position and not under the jurisdiction of DHS.” Don’t believe for a second that DHS and DVA, and other Departments of Government for that matter, don’t work together. Just because they are supposedly “independent” doesn’t mean they don’t work together. The FBI and DEA are independent entities, but work together on cases all the time. If you really believe the DVA and DHS are above “working together” on perceived problems, then you’re a fool.

    5. The lack of any specifics? Give us a break. If it’s an email intended to be passed around the internet, it’s understandable that the author doesn’t want personal information in it.

    6. Just because these are routine questions that have been asked for years doesn’t mean a new purpose can’t be added to their reason for being. Your claim that the answers to these questions can’t NOW be used to deny gun permits is simply naive.

    Overall, your Obama apologia was unpersuasive, and demonstrated a high degree of faith in the integrity of big government, a faith the rest of us don’t share – and for good reason.

  10. Nam Marineon 12 Jun 2012 at 1:01 pm

    Do not trust a Government that considers you a domestic terrorist!

  11. Benjamin Krauseon 23 Feb 2013 at 8:17 pm

    This article was posted in 2009. This is 2013. Will people please stop posting this as though it is in any way relevant to today. All it shows it that, perhaps in 2009, the original accusation was correct. Now, VA does put the names of veterans deemed “financially incompetent” into the Criminal Database that prohibits them from their Constitutional Rights.

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