About 100 residents of Priest River, Idaho gathered in solidarity Thursday evening after reports surfaced that the VA was planning to confiscate a local veteran’s firearms. The veteran in question – former Navy man John Arnold – was reportedly sent a letter from the VA office warning him that he was not allowed to possess or purchase guns of any kind. Concerned that federal agents might soon show up at Arnold’s door, residents formed a human shield around the house.
This wasn’t simply a demonstration driven by Arnold’s neighbors. Idaho state representatives like Heather Scorr and Bonner County Sheriff Daryl Wheeler were among the conservative officials present at the protest. The event even drew politicians from out of state. Washington state rep Matthew Shea said he was there to exercise “defiance against tyranny.”
The crowd passed the time with spirited songs, flag-waving, and a celebration of freedom. This area of northern Idaho runs toward the tea party end of the political spectrum, so it was no surprise to see the Gadsden flag make a prominent appearance. Notably absent, however, were any federal law enforcement officials.
“We don’t send officers to confiscate weapons,” said VA spokesman Bret Bowers. “We are about providing health care to veterans.”
That said, Bowers did admit that the VA sent a letter to Arnold, but he declined to specify the content of that communication. Technically speaking, the VA does have the right to bar veterans from purchasing firearms if they are found to be incompetent. Mental health problems such as dementia can lead to such a mandate, a policy that Second Amendment supporters fervently disagree with.
For now, it appears that Arnold’s firearms remain safely in his home. Whether that changes or not, the writing is on the wall. Just last month, the Obama administration warned that Social Security officials could use a similar mental-health test to determine whether or not recipients should own firearms. By forcing recipients to choose between their benefits and their home protection, they are trampling both the spirit and the text of the Bill of Rights.
Don’t Tread on Me
It’s encouraging to see a demonstration like this, even if it was relatively small by protest standards. It shows there are still at least a few Americans willing to stand up against federal tyranny. If there were more people like the hundred who gathered in Idaho, this country would be a lot better off.