A Texas Army veteran lost his Second Amendment rights over a 42- year-old petty misdemeanor. Ron Kelly is an American hero, having defended his country for 20 years in the Army. He retired from the military in 1993. Although a minor marijuana violation in 1971 did not prevent him from serving in the Armed Forces and fighting for freedom, it will now stop him from ever buying a gun again.
Ron Kelly walked into the Tomball, Texas Walmart looking for a new .22 caliber rifle. He found the weapon he wanted and promptly headed to the checkout counter. While the Army veteran stood at the register, money in hand, a background check was initiated. Imagine Kelly’s shock when the Walmart worker told the career military man that his named had been flagged. The no-jail-time arrest after getting caught with a small amount of pot in high school had come back to haunt him.
A report about Texas Army veteran Ron Kelly in the Houston Chronicle reads:
“According to the FBI, which runs the background checks known as the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, the law states that a person can be prevented from owing a gun if they are convicted of a misdemeanor in which they could spend more than two years behind bars.”
Then teenage Kelly was given one year probation for his youthful indiscretion and went on to serve his country valiantly, but none of that apparently matters. The Army veteran has contacted Texas Republican Representative Michael McCaul and GOP Senator John Cornyn for help with the loss of his Second Amendment rights. Kelly noted that he would be content with a waiver which would allow him to regain his gun ownership rights.
Although the now viral story about Ron Kelly losing his right to own a gun details the trials of just one man, there are likely hundreds (if not thousands) of current or retired military members who will find themselves faced with the same nonsensical restrictions.
During an interview with the Houston newspaper, Kelly said:
“I am ashamed of the way my government has treated me. The government may have the greatest intentions with the law, but they messed it up.”
North Carolina officials searching for the criminal record of the former resident have come up empty handed. Ron Kelly’s marijuana arrest was so minor and so old, no information pertaining to the charge still exists. While serving as an infantryman, the retired soldier fired about 100,000 rounds of government-issued ammunition. It is both baffling and infuriating that a man, one who passed a background check before his induction into the Army and put his life on the line for his country, now can’t make a simple rifle purchase at the local Walmart.
Earlier this year, Navy veteran Jeff Schrader also had his Second Amendment rights revoked. Schrader had been arrested for a fight during his youth and was ordered to pay a $109 fine. When the Navy veteran attempted to purchase a gun 45 years later, his minor arrest came back to haunt him as well. The law pertaining to the long ago misdemeanor crime has changed, and it now carries the possibility of at least two years in jail. The retroactive punishment disqualified Jeff Schrader from ever owing a firearm again.
Veteran Ron Kelly appealed the gun ownership denial. He recently received a letter from the US Department of Justice (DOJ) explaining the misguided reasons why he was disqualified from legally owning a gun for the rest of his life. According to a Reason report, the Second Amendment rights denial might not be legal under current law. The statute currently states that gun ownership is denied to American citizens who are convicted of felonies and misdemeanors involving domestic violence. The retired soldier did not commit a felony, nor did he hit a woman during a domestic dispute; he merely has a small baggie of pot in his pocket as a teenager.
An excerpt from the federal firearms statute pertaining to Second Amendment rights revocation reads:
“A person shall not be considered to have been convicted of such an offense for purposes of this chapter if the conviction has been expunged or set aside, or is an offense for which the person has been pardoned or has had civil rights restored [if the law of the applicable jurisdiction provides for the loss of civil rights under such an offense] unless the pardon, expungement, or restoration of civil rights expressly provides that the person may not ship, transport, possess, or receive firearms.”
The Reason report went on to note that the only other possibly gun ownership disqualifying factor which even remotely relates to Ron Kelly is the “unlawful use of or addicted to any controlled substance” statute. To truly justify the addiction reference, the government should have to possess more than a four decades old probation-only misdemeanor. The federal government essentially nullified such an argument and forgave the insignificant youthful mistake when they allowed him to join the Army and handed him a machine gun.
It disgusts me that a man the government deemed acceptable to stand on a wall and protect us is no longer able to carry a gun to protect himself. The same government which allowed Ron Kelly to fire tanks and machine guns now says no to the ownership of a .22 caliber rifle. There is just no way to make sense of such reasoning. The Texas Army veteran stated recently that at first he was really embarrassed about the high school pot baggie arrest and background check flagging, but that he is now outraged. Kelly rightfully believes he should not be denied full access to the Second Amendment rights that he spent so many years in uniform defending.
The Ron Kelly case clearly illustrates the absurd manner in which background check criteria are applied. The loss of Second Amendment rights is probably something the medical marijuana card holders in states which had the good sense to stop attempting to legislate private behavior even thought to consider. If a background check reveals current marijuana usage, they too will lose their gun ownership rights.
Texas Army veteran Ron Kelly has vowed not to give up and noted that he wants to own a gun. What do you think about the revocation of Second Amendment rights for minor (an often times decades old) misdemeanor convictions?