When I started this blog back in 2011 I kicked around the idea of writing about PTSD and guns. It was a subject that I steered away from simply because this subject is so polarizing. I would say to myself that this is not really what this blog is about, or, my readers need to learn about other aspects of the process first. Recently I had a conversation with a Veteran though, and after speaking with him, I decided it was time to put this out there. The Veteran I spoke to recently repeated the words I had heard too many times before. He was a very nice man who served in Desert Storm. As I spoke to him about his case I realized that his claims were strong, but I could tell there was something he wasn’t telling me. Since he served in Desert Storm, and was a Marine, I simply asked him if he had ever considered filing for PTSD. He stated that he believed that he had it, but he didn’t want to pursue it because he was afraid that they would take his guns away. Honestly I hadn’t heard that from a Vet in a while and it took me a little by surprise. I decided to simply tell him the facts as I know it, advised him on how to get evaluated for PTSD, and sent him paperwork to become a client of ours. I decided that I need to explain to my readers what I explained to him. However, before I do that, I want to throw in a small disclaimer. This blog post is not a political discussion. I do not care what your political views are, just like I’m sure you don’t care about mine. My goal is to simply educate Veterans on PTSD, and how it may affect their gun ownership. The reason I am writing this post is due to the fact that there is a ton of misinformation circulating the internet, and I don’t want to see any Veteran suffer because someone told them something based off of opinion rather than fact. Simply put, a diagnosis of PTSD alone will not make you lose your gun rights. No, this is not my opinion, but rather information based off research I acquired from several credible sources, a discussion with our lead VA attorney, Heather Vanhoose, and my personal experience from dealing with thousands of Veterans over the past 4 years. The first thing I am likely to hear after putting this out there is the classic: “My friend knew a guy who had his guns taken away because he had PTSD.” Well, if that is true, your friend’s friend likely had something else going on. He was likely found to be mentally incompetent. This is different than being diagnosed with PTSD.
According to lawdictionary.org, In the United States, competency involves the mental capacity of an individual in order to participate in a legal proceeding or his ability to exercise his liberty and pursue his interest. Competence also pertains to the capability of an individual’s state of mind to make decisions that involve his interests.
PTSD is not mental incompetence. Now, it is important to note that an individual who is rated at 100% on PTSD could be found incompetent. That rating is very severe. I don’t often encounter Veterans who are rated that high. However, when you research what the criteria is for a 100% rating for PTSD, you’d likely agree that individual with that rating probably shouldn’t own guns. Those individuals could have homicidal and suicidal tendencies. They also may suffer from hallucinations and delusions, among other symptoms. This is not the same for all of the other ratings of PTSD. In fact, you can be rated for PTSD at 0%, 10%, 30%, 50%, 70% or 100%. Most of the Veterans I encounter with PTSD fall anywhere from 30%-70%. These ratings tend to be in the moderate to heavy range. I’ve been doing this for a while. In my time I’ve never had an issue in which I talked to a Veteran about service connecting for PTSD; they were later connected, and then lost their guns. Once again, I don’t often encounter Veterans who need to be rated at the 100% level for PTSD. Those people aren’t likely to call an attorney for help. I want to be clear on another aspect of this topic. It’s important to check with your individual state laws pertaining to gun ownership, concealed carry laws, and how it pertains to mental incompetency. We represent Veterans from all across the United States, and this blog is viewed by people in every state too. As many gun owners will tell you, there is not universal gun law. Certain things vary from state to state. I live in West Virginia; the laws here will likely be different that they are in most states. An example of this is evident when it comes to concealed handgun laws. According to the website of the West Virginia attorney general, permits issued in West Virginia are not universally recognized. West Virginia has full reciprocity in several states. However, since August of 2014, Nevada no longer recognizes our concealed handgun laws. This is just one example of how gun laws differ from state. So, what are you to do in your state? The simplest thing to do is research your local and state laws. I say this with a word of caution though. Be very careful of where you obtain your information. Anyone can make a website. Anyone can post words as fact, and there is a lot of bad information out there that will show up quickly in search results. Pay close attention to who is posting the information. My bio explains who I am, what my education is, how long I have been working in VA Disability, and even a link to my Twitter profile so that you can read my opinion on such pressing matters as Jennifer Lawrence films and how Brad Keselowski is such a nuanced yet necessary part of the current culture of NASCAR. In the end, PTSD is easily one of the biggest issues facing our Veterans. I have Veterans in my own life that suffer from PTSD, and don’t seek treatment. I want every Vet who is having issues with PTSD to get the help they need. I’d hate to think that any Veteran had to suffer because someone misinformed them about their gun ownership. Thanks for taking some time to read my blog. If you have questions about PTSD, service connecting, or VA Disability, call me toll free. Our Number here is 1-877-526-3457. Just ask for Jon. If this isn’t a great time to talk, fill out this form, and I’ll be happy to call you at a later date.