Army Veteran Can’t Buy Rifle Because Of Pot Conviction 42 Years Ago

BY Herschel Smith
4 years, 5 months ago

NRO’s Corner:

Ron Kelly, a 59-year-old retired U.S Army soldier, made the front page of the Houston Chronicle Wednesday after he was denied permission to purchase a .22 caliber rifle at a Wal-Mart in Tomball, Texas. The veteran failed the FBI’s background check because he was charged with marijuana possession — in 1971.

Under the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, a person can be prevented from buying a gun if they have been convicted of a misdemeanor for which they could serve two or more years in prison. While in high school, Kelly was busted with a small amount of marijuana and spent one night behind bars before he was sentenced to a year of probation. Such a record, under the federal law, prohibits him from exercising his Second Amendment rights.

Kelly, a native of Durham, North Carolina, enlisted as an infantryman two years after the incident that is currently keeping him from keeping a gun in his own home. “I went on to serve 20 years,” said Kelly. He finds it “amazing” that after firing two decades worth of government ammunition, “they won’t let me buy a gun for a misdemeanor 42 years ago.”

I too find this ridiculous, and I couldn’t care less about a conviction for marijuana 42 years ago.  But let’s pause a moment and ask why it’s important to the story that he is retired from the U.S. Army?  It shouldn’t have anything to do with experience handling firearms.  That can be learned.  Does it have to do with the idea that members of the armed forces have served their country?

I have a son who is a former Marine.  I am sympathetic to that idea, and while America owes him everything they promised on a contractual basis, we don’t owe him a mansion on Emerald Isle with free food for the rest of his life.  Besides, appreciation for service shouldn’t be conflated with legal approval for owning weapons.

When retiring California police officers wanted to keep their “assault weapons” after leaving work, I opposed this exemption from the new California law.  If Californians want to be communists, then “special people” shouldn’t be exempted from their onerous laws and regulations.  Similarly, if it’s okay for someone who was charged with having marijuana 42 years ago to own a weapon, it shouldn’t matter whether he is a former Soldier or not.  What’s good for one is good for all.

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Comments

  1. On July 11, 2013 at 1:03 pm, Justin said:

    LOL.

    The POTUS, however, can have either admitted to it (without inhaling in Slick Willy’s case) or have photo evidence of it (in the case of the current oathbreaker) and be the commander in chief of the world’s largest military.

    Go TeamUSA.

  2. On July 11, 2013 at 5:23 pm, Snowleopard said:

    The declaration of Independence states that our rights come from God, not from the state, and amoung these rights is the right to life. The right to life obviously includes both the right to defend life and access to the weapons needed to do so.

    Thus, unless one has abused the right to life (murder, manslaughter, etc.) or the means of defence (violent use of weapons in crime), there is no legitimate reason to deny a person the means of self defence if they are deemed fit to be in the general population, regardless of whatever other real or political crimes they may have committed in the past.

    The Second Amendment states that the right of the people (everyone) to keep and bear Arms (war weapons) shall not be infringed. It is obvious that restricting nonviolent offenders from access to Arms is an infringement of this right.

  3. On July 15, 2013 at 7:48 am, Inquiring Minds said:

    I thought only felons were prohibited from owning guns (and voting). Is he prohibited from owning, or just from purchasing through FFL? Can he own if he purchases from a private owner?

    It’s also laughable that they are preventing his purchase of a .22. Better check his Pop-tarts too – one of them might be shaped like a pistol.

    We are already under tyranny. The bureaucrats are worse than any king.

  4. On July 15, 2013 at 10:50 pm, Bob said:

    This all comes from the media-inspired elevation of military people to some sort of exalted status. Not implying that they are anywhere near to being in the same category, but they have done so for the poodle-shooting jackbooted minions of The Law, as well.

    Talking with some ex-.mil friends over the weekend about the Endless War, one chick said, “Yeah, and if we had known what we were REALLY fighting for, and how stupid it was to further the agenda of the people behind these evil causes, we woulda never signed up.”

  5. On July 16, 2013 at 2:39 am, RoyInNC said:

    Ron Kelly is fortunate that Texas didn’t put him in prison for 20 years. 42 years ago, I read of one or more persons sentenced to prison in Texas for 20 years for pot.

    It appears to me that he was prevented from purchasing a firearm by a background check. He still has the right to purchase a used weapon from another individual because the law hasn’t become so restrictive as to preclude that yet and he has no felony conviction that would make it illegal for him to possess one.

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This article is filed under the category(s) Gun Control and was published July 11th, 2013 by Herschel Smith.

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