A Texas man who served for 20 years in the U.S. Army after being convicted for a minor drug charge in 1971 was turned away from a local Walmart after attempting to purchase a .22-caliber rifle and failing a Federal background check for his 42 year-old offense.
According to a report from CBS Houston, Ron Kelly incurred the drug charge while still in high school and was sentenced to a year of probation. He enlisted in the Army two years later, and went on to obtain a top-secret security clearance.
“It is amazing that they won’t let me buy a gun for a misdemeanor 42 years ago,” he told The Houston Chronicle. “I am ashamed of the way my government has treated me. The government may have the greatest of intentions with the [law], but they messed it up.”
A Texas Rifle Association representative said it was “crazy” that such a minor blemish in the life of an American veteran – one who went on to fire cannon and machine guns as a soldier – could place him in the same company with felons and traitors as one who doesn’t meet the government’s standard for owning a firearm.
More troubling is the mystery surrounding how the FBI, which conducts Federal background checks, knew of the decades-old conviction. When the Chronicle checked with the North Carolina courthouse, police department and District Attorney to obtain a record of Kelly’s bygone run-in with the law, the paper was told records that old weren’t stored in a computer database, and very likely couldn’t be located.