He Could Bear Arms for the Government -- But Not For Himselfby Will Grigg
Jul. 14, 2013
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Before he retired from the Army in 1993, Houston resident Ron Kelly spent decades firing machine guns, tanks, and other high-performance weapons. Kelly estimates that during his military career he fired 100,000 rounds of ammo. Yet when he recently tried to purchase a .22-caliber rifle at a local Wal-Mart, Kelly was denied – because a computerized background check turned up a misdemeanor marijuana conviction from 1971.
As a teenager, Kelly was arrested with a baggie of pot at High School and given a year of probation. According to the FBI, federal law prevents a firearms purchase by people convicted of a misdemeanor that could result in a two-year jail sentence, and that this would apply even to those, like Kelly, who received a lighter sentence than the maximum.
Significantly, although the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System found a record of Kelly’s misdemeanor conviction, officials in North Carolina – where the youthful arrest took place – couldn’t find it.
Kelly’s youthful indiscretion didn’t disqualify him from firing guns on behalf of the government at taxpayer expense. Yet it supposedly makes him unworthy to keep and bear arms in his own defense.