Veterans' gun rights sticky issue in bill

KEVIN FREKING Associated Press Published:

WASHINGTON -- Should veterans deemed too mentally incompetent to handle their own financial affairs be prevented from buying a gun?

The issue, for a time last week, threatened to become the biggest sticking point in a $631 billion defense bill for reshaping a military that is disengaging from a decade of warfare.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., sought to amend the bill to stop the Veterans Affairs Department from putting the names of veterans deemed too mentally incompetent to handle their finances into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which prohibits them from buying or owning firearms.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., objected, saying the measure would make it easier for veterans with mental illness to own a gun, endangering themselves and others.

Bush stable: Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush remains in stable condition at a Houston hospital where he is being treated for a lingering cough related to bronchitis. George Kovacik, a spokesman for Methodist Hospital, said Sunday there has been no change over the last couple of days in the status of the 88-year-old Bush.

Powerful storm: The third powerful storm in a week drenched an already saturated Northern California, but concerns of serious flooding eased as the system moved through faster than expected. The storm dropping as much as an inch of rain per hour Sunday in some areas, toppling trees and knocking out electrical service to tens of thousands of people, officials said.

Dolphin bites girl: The family of an 8-year-old Georgia girl says she suffered minor injuries after a dolphin bit her hand at SeaWorld in Orlando, Fla. WSB-TV (http://bit.ly/SpqcA3) reports young Jillian Thomas of Alpharetta was feeding fish to the dolphin as part of a SeaWorld attraction and got bitten when she held up the paper fish container to where the dolphin could grab it. That's something SeaWorld warns guests not to do.

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