Vets Stripped of Their Right to Bear Arms

When someone joins the United States Army, that person swears the Oath of Enlistment, which is as follows: “I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.” It would make sense that people who swear the above oath, who serve honorably in the ranks, and who literally shed their blood for the Constitution of the United States could expect to get back a little true faith and allegiance, expect some righteous defense of their own Constitutionally-guaranteed rights. Apparently not . . .

Especially if they make the mistake of applying for the wrong VA benefit, if it can actually be called a “benefit.”

The specific benefit is called the “Aid and Assistance/Housebound” and is meant for veterans so disabled that they cannot take care of themselves at all. It allows a small stipend to help a designated caretaker provide for the severely-disabled vet.

Sgt. Wayne Irelan of Arkansas, wounded in combat in Iraq and awarded the Purple Heart, made the mistake of signing up for this benefit.

For the Irelans to receive this benefit the VA first declared Wayne’s PTSD to be so bad that he was considered “mentally incompetent,” and his wife Lana was designated his caretaker. Only Wayne apparently didn’t realize what else he was signing up for besides that small amount of money.

Any vet declared to be mentally incompetent instantly loses his rights to own firearms or ammunition. And those rights are stripped regardless of what that vet has actually done.

You read that correctly. All it takes is a declaration by some government bureaucrat, and a veteran’s rights–the exact same rights guaranteed by the Constitution he swore to defend with his own life–can be stripped away. Even if the vet hasn’t done anything wrong.

About a year after he started receiving the Aid and Assistance/Housebound stipend, Wayne Irelan got a letter from the Arkansas State Police saying his Arkansas concealed carry permit had been revoked.

I teach Arkansas CCW permit classes. I know the process required to get a permit very well. To get an Arkansas CCW permit, Wayne had to pass a class and submit fingerprints to the Arkansas State Police, who then passed his prints along to the FBI who also did a background check.

After Wayne got background checked by the State Police and FBI, the State Police notified the Sheriff’s office in the county in which Wayne lived. And if Wayne lived inside city limits when he applied for his permit, that city’s Chief of Police was also notified that Sgt. Irelan had applied for a CCW permit.

According to Arkansas law, both the County Sheriff and the Chief of Police have 120 days to tell the State Police to reject the application, if they have good reason to do so.

For example, local law enforcement might know that Applicant X is a habitual violent drunk who hasn’t yet been actually arrested or convicted of anything. Unlikely as it might be for that situation to actually exist, I can see why law enforcement would prefer that Applicant X not get a concealed carry permit

But before Sgt Irelan received his Arkansas CCW permit, he was checked out by the Arkansas State Police, the FBI, and okayed by a county Sheriff and probably a Chief of Police.

Even if somebody gets a permit, Arkansas law lists several offenses or arrests that will cause an issued permit to be revoked. As far as I can tell from media reports, Sgt. Wayne Irelan has never been arrested or accused of any offense. His Arkansas CCW permit was revoked only because he applied for and received this particular VA benefit.

What’s more, he and his wife Lana did not know that Wayne’s gun rights had been stripped until they tried to recover a gun that they had pawned for a little extra cash. That’s right. Wayne Irelan fought and bled for this country, but nobody could be bothered to inform him that the VA had stripped his gun rights away until after he tried to get his gun out of hock at a pawn shop.

Not only did Wayne find out the hard way, the Irelans were then told by the ATF that they could both go to prison if a gun was found in their home. It’s not bad enough that Wayne Irelan’s gun rights been stripped, but the gun rights of everyone who lives in his house, or who visits his house, have also been stripped.

If one of Wayne’s friends or relatives gets a new turkey shotgun for Christmas, he can forget taking it over to Wayne’s house to show it off. That simple, very natural action could now land both the Irelans in federal prison.

If Lana Irelan wants an Arkansas CCW permit, she can get one. However, she can’t have a gun in her own house to protect her life and Wayne’s life, so long as Wayne lives under the same roof.

I talked about this case with a good friend of mine here in Arkansas who is also a Purple Heart recipient and Iraq War veteran. He told me that what happened to the Irelans is sadly a common occurrence.

My friend told me that vets sometimes apply for this benefit, hoping only to get a little extra cash, but they have no idea what the VA and the ATF will do to them if they actually get the benefit.

He told me that he has personally helped other vets in the same situation recover their gun rights, but that the process is long and costly, especially for somebody who got into the situation only because he needed money in the first place.

It’s also not a sure thing, either. It will take a petition to a federal judge for Wayne to be declared competent, and for the VA’s finding to be rescinded. Then the judge will have to issue court orders to get Irelan’s CCW permit and gun rights restored. The Irelans will also have to pay back all the money they received from the benefit program.

After all this is done, if it can be done, Sgt. Wayne Irelan will forever be on the ATF’s radar. My friend tells me that the vets he helped out can buy guns again, but they are made to wait three days before picking up the gun, because of the extra-special attention from the ATF.

That’s how the VA treats men and women who take the Oath of Enlistment, and who lose time spent with their friends and family in the service of the United States Army. That’s how veterans who get wounded defending the Constitution of the United States are rewarded if they apply for the wrong “benefit” that they probably feel, with lots of justification, that they are owed.

As bad as all this is, it’s not even the worst part.

My friend told me that many vets who hear about such cases, and who see stuff like this in the media, deliberately choose to not seek help because they fear that their rights will be taken away. Another friend of mine I talked to, also an Iraq War vet, wondered if he’d be the next one to get his rights stripped.

Service men and women who legitimately need help with PTSD avoid getting that help because they fear what the VA, the ATF, the state police, their government will do to them and their families.

It’s simply outrageous.

comments

  1. avatar LR308 says:

    I've contacted my congressional representatives about this before and got some pathetic canned response in return. This just goes to show how easily the govt. can take away our constitutional rights without a care in the world.

  2. avatar Martin Albright says:

    So…am I the only one to notice the elephant in the room?

    Irelan went to a doctor and had the doctor submit a report indicating he was so mentally disabled by PTSD that he couldn't care for himself.

    Seems to me one of two things has to be true: Either Irelan was, in fact, severely mentally ill, in which case I think it's quite legitimate to ask whether he should be allowed to possess a firearm.
    OR, Irelan lied to his doctor and the VA in order to obtain a government benefit to which he was not entitled. The law has a word for that:

    Fraud. (continued below)

    1. avatar Chuck Ramsey/GySgt. Ret. says:

      A classic example of not getting all the information. The “small amount of money”. If he’s that bad off with PTSD then he’s probably rated at 100% Disability and he’s getting a check for over $2600 a month. An income most don’t get working 5 days a week. I agree with you, either he shouldn’t be armed or he’s BSing the VA to get a check. So if that be the case, then he’ll have to decide if he wants the money or give up the right to carry/own.

  3. avatar Martin Albright says:

    (continued from above)

    Now, in the post-Heller, post-McDonald legal world, it is probably worth revisiting the question of whether a mental disability deprives a person of the right to bear arms. Heller explicitly said that it could, but didn't go into the details because that wasn't part of the question presented. In most cases, the law requires at least a little bit of due process in order to strip someone of a Constitutionally protected right – at the very least, a hearing at which they have the opportunity to present evidence that they are not a threat to the public, or that their diagnosis is not so severe that it should prevent them from owning weapons for self-defense. The law should also state the exact procedures by which a person adjudged mentally unfit to possess arms can petition to have those rights restored.

    (continued below)

  4. avatar Martin Albright says:

    But that's all in the future. In the here and now it is illegal for a person who has been adjudged mentally incompetent to possess firearms. And it doesn't matter whether the mental condition was created by a birth defect or by a war injury. Nor should it matter, because the purpose of the law is to protect the public and the public has a right to be protected from a mentally ill veteran just as much as they have a right to be protected from a mentally ill civilian.

  5. avatar Devra says:

    I am a disabled vet who is in the process of obtaining a concealed carry license. I am also a Life member of the NRA. 70% of my disability is anxiety disorder related to a traumatic birth experience with my first child. This same disorder has made me quite protective of my children … not being able to protect myself and them against intruders will only cause me further anxiety.
    I agree some people should not be armed but I don't agree with the methods currently used to determine who those people are. The government I fought to defend is definitely too powerful – something I learned while in which is why I finished my first tour and got out.
    I hope everyone will vote for freedom in the coming elections this fall.

  6. avatar Wayne E Irelan 3rd says:

    lets just set out the facts my Father(WAYNE E IRELAN) is the most honest hard workin man you will ever meet .He suffered more pain and mental problems from the war then anyone I know. I was raised to be a truthfull as well as my entire family,we have all served our country .To even say that my dad is a lier is a outrage and yes he has what I call shell shock, but you would to if you watched four men ripped into in front of your eyes. Before you speak (MARTIN) you should get all your facts straight .I know that there is some vets that are unstable and should not have firearms but the V.A. should not just brand a man or woman a nutt case with out at least getting to know a person . Everyones cases are different and in the case of Wayne Irelan its nothing but a load of crap plain and simple.My dad has more honor and selfless service in his little finger than any body i have ever met. and if there was more god fearing men like him the world would be alot better off.

    1. avatar Wayne E Irelan 3rd says:

      Heres a storey for you. While my dad (WAYNE IRELAN laid in a bed at a army hospital with 4 machines hooked to him and tubes running out of his entire body .A general walked in to his ICU room to visit him.
      My father gets up the strenth to get up on the edge of his bed and pay respect to his commander. even though his arm was just reattached and his face was almost gone and he had 65 surgeys in a two mo. time period that man got out of bed and showed respect .out of everyone that general saw that day wayne irelan is the only one that did that and he was the most injured on that floor. I know because I was there….

      1. avatar wayne irelan says:

        My dad is the prime example of a true american and a honorable man. and thats all I got to say!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

  7. avatar ghost7071` says:

    What Martin Albright says is correct in so many ways. I am a Nam vet and I don’t care who you are, what war you served in, how bad you were injured or what. If you don’t have the mental stability to own a weapon then you shouldn’t. Sad to say but I have seen too many vets who are just applying for benefits to get the $$ no matter if they have a problem or not. PTSD is one of the main ones. Qualifying for it is so simple you don’t even have to have left the states…..pathetic. SO if one of the stipulations is giving up your right to possess a weapon so you can get your check, then you decide if you want the money or your guns. If more new about this loss of rights, maybe they wouldn’t apply just to get a check which would leave the money for those who really need it.
    I am not a Right or Leftist. I am an American who swore that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. That would include those who are just playing the system to get a check because they are bringing discredit upon those of us who served honorably and live by the oath we swore even though we are no longer active duty.
    You want to play crazy to get a check, go do it somewhere else!

  8. avatar CUJO THE DOG OF WAR says:

    The level of insanity the government operates in never ceases to amaze and anger me! A civilian can voluntarily commit himself to a mental health facility and the records are kept confidential-but let a vet be treated AFTER service and he has the stigma and is discriminated against! MY PTSD mainly has to do with claustrophobia and I am not mentally ill. It took years before I came forward because of the shame and the labels put on us. My limit on lying,thieving politicians is surpassed-they do wrong and they maybe go to a white collar, golf course,level 1 federal prison. We do wrong and we do hard time! I remember a phrase once…now how did it go…something,something ”the day of the rope”!

  9. avatar Chuck says:

    The VA doesn’t make the decision of gun ownership. They simply set the conditions the individual has to meet medically to qualify for the benefit. The law makers make the decisions on if you can still own a weapon. Sad to say, too many are ‘applying’ and know how to play the system, just to get the money. They need to loose some rights if that’s how they want to act……they are a discrace to the rest of us honest vets……Semper Fi!

  10. avatar Shawn says:

    Wayne E Irelan 3rd,

    First of all I would like to thank your father for his service to our country. I am appalled by this information. I am even more disturbed that fellow veterans have jumped to the conclusion that a wounded combat veteran is either pandering or so crazy that he should lose the right to bear arms. Please know that these few veterans do not represent the rest of us, and the few that jump to these conclusions simply bring disgrace on themselves and no one else.

    I agree that there are some instances in which an individual to include a veteran should lose their right to bear arms. The general classification of a person who is “adjudicated as a mental defective person” is in my opinion not sufficient.

    I am also dealing with this issue for my father who has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease as a result of exposure to Agent Orange who has been determined to be incompetent and unable to work. He was not directly injured in combat but is now 100% disabled as a result of multiple conditions that resulted from his 22 years of service. To think that he, my mother and any of their 3 children to include myself and who are all veterans will lose our right to bear arms while in the home of my 80 year old father is criminal. My father is a kind and gentle man who for the last 40 years after military retirement has pastured small community churches and working as a gunsmith. He has never committed a crime or posed a danger to himself or others.

    I believe that information that I have found on the ATF website could help if you have not already overcome this issue. It appears to me that based on this document that a mental health adjudication imposed by a Federal department or agency (VA) and the adjudication was based solely on a medical finding without opportunity for hearing by the Federal department or agency with proper jurisdiction.

    http://www.atf.gov/publications/download/i/atf-i-3310-4.pdf

  11. avatar CW3 Harrington says:

    Lets try to talk some common sense here, rather than getting upset at each other for assuming we know the whole story about SGT Ireland.

    I am of the opinion that no one shall infringe on my right to bear arms. Whether it’s defending my home from a home invasion from a gang-banger from the ghetto or defending it from a rogue government entity who thinks they know what’s best for me.

    I also am of the opinion that there need to be some changes to a flawed system, just ask Chris Kyle and his family.

    Where is the line drawn?

    I’ve been deployed, 4 times in fact. I hold a CHL, and I am worried it’s gonna disappear, I’ve not been labeled a PTSD casualty, but there are those who don’t see gray areas, so I may get a letter from ATF one day…

    The problem is, and always will come down to resources. How can they determine each individuals complete profile and mental state with what they have? We don’t have the money to devote to such things, hell my unit hardly has the money to train for the next deployment. So, they have to lump us all into one big pile of traumatized personnell who are not fit to have a weapon, driven by the fear that irrational people like Feinstein and her crowd drum up.

    There needs to be a system of checks and balances that work without infringing on the rights of the innocent bystanders that are caught in the red tape that trails behind the current way of doing things, and sounds like to me that SGT Ireland may have been a victim of this.

    What does the government do ALL the damn time? Knee-jerk reaction, because they are too inefficient to be proactive, so therein lies the problem of resources, it’s not a problem till it’s too late to fix, then there is a blanket plan that may or may not help but will always end up causing more grief than they could ever anticipate.

    What do you think they (they being any gov’t official) would say if we just disarmed everyone including their security details? Hell no of course. They dont have people shooting at them… Yet. But then again we aren’t or never will be as important as they are. Take for example the retirement plan they get… Think I’m going to get my full paycheck after doing one tour? And they don’t even get shot at… Yet… 😉

    If we want to change this mess we need to start there, and if we don’t do it soon all those people who you laughed at for being paranoid will most likely say I told ya so. I hate to admit this, I consider myself a reasonable person but goddamn it’s getting ridiculous. Vote them out, force them out, or something but we need to figure it out soon though.

    I’ve emailed many senators and congressmen and I doubt it even matters at all. That’s sad isn’t it? The people I sacrifice so much for really don’t give two shits about what I really have to say, or any of you. We have to say what we mean by votes, because that’s all they really care about in the end.

  12. avatar jeff bortoff says:

    Actually they cant take away anything . You the citizen are the only person who controls your rights. if they want to try to take your rights away that is when you arm yourself. and fight for it. if the government isnt scared of the people then their is an issue.

  13. avatar Doug Brendle says:

    As a Soldier diagnosed with PTSD, this is exactly why I told my primary care physician to get f**ked when told to go for treatment. Relief from the occasional night mare is not worth the loss of my right to keep and bare arms.

  14. avatar Eric says:

    I agree strongly with the Chief. As a combat veteran this is actually the first post ive ever made concerning anything to do with veteran concerns. First I would like to state that I am an avid gun owner and NRA member. Every citizen in the United States is afforded the right to keep and bear arms and the process in which Sgt Ireland lost this right is an outrage.I have all the classic PTSD symptoms and even went to the VA and started a claim on this and some other ailments associated with my military career. And was about to follow up on it until I heard about this atrocity from a friend. Lose the rights I vowed to defend just because I need a little help working out the crap that war had to offer us. I think ill keep my possible PTSD and my weapons. It looks like ill need them both when they come to take our rights from us. We as veterans need to stand united as we were on the battlefields. Just because Sgt Ireland was diagnosed with PTSD doesn’t mean that he would harm civilians with his guns. Like I stated before out of ten symptoms of it I carry eight and the only thing that makes me dangerous to society is a threat to me or mine.

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