Can a Veteran With PTSD Buy a Gun?

Can a Veteran With PTSD Buy a Gun?

If you’re a U.S. military Veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to your service, you likely qualify to receive VA benefits. However, you may hesitate to seek benefits because you fear a PTSD diagnosis will restrict your right to own a gun.

Can a Veteran with PTSD buy a gun? This is a controversial topic, and a lot of misinformation exists online.

In most cases, having PTSD doesn’t automatically disqualify a Veteran from owning or purchasing a gun. However, the manner in which the VA classifies PTSD and other mental health issues may affect your Second Amendment rights. Some individuals may pose a risk to themselves or others, in which case, owning a gun may not be a good idea.

Contact an experienced Veterans benefits attorney for answers to your questions and specific advice regarding your situation. A Veterans benefits attorney can guide you through the process of obtaining VA benefits and advocate on your behalf if the VA denies your claim.

Understanding VA Disability Ratings for PTSD

As with most service-connected conditions, the VA assigns ratings for PTSD based on level of severity. Some Veterans with PTSD can maintain employment, have social relationships with others, and function with minimal impairment. Others may have more severe symptoms, such as hallucinations and/or delusions, and may act aggressively or inappropriately toward others. 

The VA assigns disability ratings for PTSD at zero percent, 10 percent, 30 percent, 50 percent, 70 percent, or 100 percent. The VA can rate an individual for multiple conditions. For example, the VA may rate a Veteran at 50 percent for PTSD in conjunction with other conditions, to equal 100 percent. Thus, a Veteran may have a 100 percent disability rating but only half of that for PTSD.

Even if a Veteran receives a 100 percent PTSD rating, that doesn’t mean they will lose their right to own firearms or weapons. The VA and most states often consider the mental competency of the individual, which can affect their gun rights.

Mental Incompetency and PTSD

The Code of Federal Regulations defines a mentally incompetent person as one who lacks the mental capacity to manage their affairs, including finances.

If a Veteran demonstrates severe mental health issues, the VA may determine the individual is no longer able to manage their personal affairs. If this is so, the VA may assign a fiduciary to manage the Veteran’s finances and benefits and report this to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). However, Veterans can appeal the VA’s determination of mental incompetency if they can prove they are capable of managing their financial affairs without a fiduciary. If successful, the Veteran may maintain their right to purchase and own a gun and have their names removed from the NICS. 

Licensed firearms dealers are required to run a NICS check prior to selling anyone a firearm. If a Veteran has been deemed mentally incompetent and is placed on the NICS list, s/he may be stopped from purchasing a firearm. 

The Brady Act of 1993 prohibits certain individuals from purchasing firearms, including individuals the VA determines mentally incompetent. However, the Act contains an amendment that allows mentally incompetent individuals to request relief from the Act’s reporting requirements. Thus, even a Veteran found mentally incompetent may purchase a firearm if the VA provides an exemption. 

Additionally, Veterans must check local and state gun laws regarding who may and may not own a firearm. Some states have strict regulations regarding firearm ownership, and no nationwide universal gun laws govern the issue. So, the laws in Texas may differ from the laws in Tennessee. Work with an attorney with in-depth knowledge of your state’s gun laws for advice and guidance.

Keep in mind, having a PTSD is not the same thing as being mentally incompetent. A Veteran who receives a 100 percent PTSD rating might still handle their affairs and look out for their own interests. Speak with an experienced Veterans’ PTSD attorney about your case if you have concerns about your PTSD rating and your ability to own or buy a gun.

What Should I Do If I Think I Have PTSD?

PTSD is a serious mental health condition caused by experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event.

Symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Recurrent and unwanted distressing memories of the event you can’t control, such as constantly reliving the event or having flashbacks and nightmares
  • Experiencing intense and ongoing emotional distress and anxiety about the event
  • Avoiding places or people that remind you of the event
  • Negative thoughts about yourself or others or just life in general
  • Hopelessness and apathy
  • Lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Concentration and memory problems and other cognitive issues
  • Social avoidance and feeling detached from friends and family
  • Difficulty maintaining relationships or employment
  • Always feeling frightened or on-guard 
  • Engaging in self-destructive or violent behavior

People with PTSD can exhibit additional symptoms of varying intensity. Stressful events having nothing to do with the underlying cause may trigger or exacerbate PTSD.

Active combat and war usually subject individuals to all sorts of horrors, including an intense and immediate fear for their lives.

Some individuals can adjust and cope with the traumatic event, and their symptoms may subside with time and self-care. However, if symptoms worsen or last more than a month, you should seek medical help right away. Also, reach out for professional help immediately if you have thoughts of suicide or violence toward others.

Get a medical or psychological evaluation to diagnose PTSD and receive treatment. Then, a PTSD lawyer can submit a claim for VA benefits to help you receive the benefits you deserve.

Contact an Experienced VA PTSD Attorney for Help Regarding Your Claim and Right to Gun Ownership

If you’re a Veteran with PTSD and a gun enthusiast, do not let misinformation about whether PTSD Veterans can buy or own a firearm prevent you from seeking the VA benefits you need. Get the honest answers you need from an experienced Veterans’ PTSD attorney in your area, and do rely solely on the information you find online. 

Berry Law’s team of VA disability benefits attorneys has helped more than 14,000 military servicemembers with their complex VA benefits claims, including PTSD benefits.

As Veterans ourselves, we have more than 300 years of combined military service, and we founded our law firm to provide the highest level of advocacy and support possible to those who sacrificed so much in the service of our country. 

To date, we have recovered more than $300 million in back pay and other benefits for our fellow Veterans, and you can trust we will do all we can to uphold your rights while helping you get the full benefits you deserve.

Let us review your case and advise you as to whether your PTSD rating from the VA may affect your right to buy or own a gun. We can assist with the appeals process if you feel the decision against you is unfair and help you find the relief you seek. Contact us today for your confidential consultation.

ptsd attorney john berry
VA PTSD Attorney, John Berry
Berry Law

The attorneys at Berry Law are dedicated to helping injured Veterans. With extensive experience working with VA disability claims, Berry Law can help you with your disability appeals.

This material is for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship between the Firm and the reader, and does not constitute legal advice. Legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and the contents of this blog are not a substitute for legal counsel.

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