Can a Veteran With PTSD Own a Gun?

Can a Veteran With PTSD Own a Gun?

If you are one of the many Veterans who have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), you need to understand your Second Amendment rights. Every state has different gun laws and gun control rights, so it is essential to review local laws or consult a Veterans’ law attorney to determine if your PTSD could prevent you from owning or buying a gun. 

It is not unusual for Veterans to want to own a gun for protection and recreation. However, veterans with PTSD may have an especially difficult time when trying to own guns. Symptoms of PTSD can make gun ownership higher risk for some individuals. If you are a Veteran with PTSD and are interested in owning a gun, make sure you know how your state’s gun laws treat PTSD.

Berry Law was founded by John Stevens Berry Sr., Vietnam War Veteran and trial attorney. Today, we count many military service members among our attorneys and staff. We know what it means to serve, and we know firsthand the struggles many of our clients face every day. In this post, we’ll discuss some of the challenges that Veterans with PTSD face, including the difficulties related to gun rights and PTSD.  

If you are a Veteran suffering from PTSD, you may be eligible to receive disability benefits from the VA. However, Veterans who file disability claims for PTSD often find their claims denied. If you are struggling to get the benefits that you deserve from the Department of Veterans Affairs, one of our experienced attorneys may be able to help. Our firm is dedicated to helping Veterans get the benefits that they need for their service-related disabilities

Veterans with PTSD

PTSD is a common anxiety disorder that affects thousands of Veterans each year. There are many types of traumatic events a service member may experience during active duty that can lead to PTSD symptoms.   

There are four primary categories of PTSD symptoms: 

  • Avoidance: Sufferers of PTSD often find it overwhelming to confront anything that reminds them of their traumatic experiences. Veterans who have PTSD may isolate themselves to avoid any reminders of their trauma, including people, events, places, and certain objects. 
  • Negative Thoughts and Feelings: People with PTSD often feel intense guilt and shame surrounding their trauma. Many may blame themselves for traumatic experiences that were completely beyond their control. Because of these negative thoughts and feelings, PTSD often coincides with depression. 
  • Arousal: People with PTSD often feel a sense of constant anxiety and being “switched on.” A traumatic experience can make it easy for someone to feel on edge all the time, even if nothing is wrong. 
  • Reliving: One of the most commons symptoms is intense memories that come back long after a traumatic experience has occurred. These memories may come in the form of flashbacks or nightmares, and they make it difficult for Veterans with PTSD to function during the day and sleep well at night. Many Veterans with PTSD develop insomnia as a result. 


While the most common precipitating factor for PTSD is imminent threat to life or limb, Veterans may also be disturbed by witnessing horrific events, discovering inhumane circumstances, or being the victim of prolonged harassment or military sexual assault (also known as military sexual trauma, or MST).  Combat zones carry continuous risk, and PTSD can be caused by seemingly regular events because of their context.  For example, needing to change a flat tire while in a convoy through an actively disputed zone can be a triggering factor even if there was no engagement with the enemy. 

PTSD can happen to anyone—it is not an indication of one’s strength or weakness or even mental capacity. Veterans who are exposed to trauma or have been injured in the line of duty are significantly more likely to develop symptoms of PTSD than the general population.  

PTSD affects an overwhelming number of Veterans. Symptoms may occur immediately or lay dormant until months or even years after a Veteran has returned home to safety.  Once they appear, PTSD symptoms can significantly hinder everyday activity and make life difficult to manage. If you notice any of your family members who served in the armed forces having any symptoms of a mental health condition or mental health issues, it is best to seek medical advice for a potential diagnosis, and look into if they are eligible for VA benefits. 

PTSD Veterans and Gun Rights

In the United States, there are few federal laws about possession beyond the Second Amendment’s overarching guarantee of the right to bear arms.   There are also prohibitions against owning a gun under certain conditions as laid forth in VA Title 18 U.S.C. § 922, such as that the applicant “has not been adjudicated as a mental defective or been committed to a mental institution.” However, there is no direct prohibition against gun ownership simply on the grounds of having a mental health diagnosis. 

Despite debate, it is important to note that there is a difference between the VA granting disability benefits for a mental health impairment and the VA determining that an individual is mentally defective.  The most common situation in which the VA judges a Veteran as mentally deficient is when s/he has been put in fiduciary trustee status, meaning someone else manages their money and property. 

Special Considerations For Veterans With PTSD

PTSD is one of the most pressing issues Veterans face when returning from military service. If a Veteran has PTSD and would like assistance, s/he is encouraged to seek help from the VA to obtain proper healthcare. If the VA determines a Veteran’s PTSD is service-related, then s/he is assigned a disability rating. 

When a Veteran receives a disability rating from the VA, it directly corresponds with the tax-free benefits received each month. Veterans with severely debilitating PTSD symptoms may qualify for a 100% VA disability rating, which grants the highest levels of monthly compensation. However, disability ratings for PTSD are not always high; this condition is one which is often inaccurately assessed and rated by the VA. 

If you are a Veteran suffering from PTSD, you deserve the compensation you need to support yourself and your loved ones. PTSD can make it extremely difficult to work and function in everyday life. Thus, a VA evaluation and associated benefits can have a life-altering impact, for better or for worse. If the VA has approved your disability claim but has given you a rating that is too low, you can appeal their decision with the help of an attorney. 

Veterans typically want to get the highest disability rating possible to qualify for the most compensation. However, Veterans with a 100% disability rating for PTSD may have severe impairments that hinder them from performing basic everyday tasks. Depending on state laws, Veterans with this high disability rating may face implications stemming from PTSD and gun rights. 


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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Can a Veteran With PTSD Buy a Gun?
Can a Veteran With PTSD Buy a Gun?

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