Ron Kelly, a 20-year Army veteran, recently tried to buy a .22-caliber rifle at the Wal-Mart in Tomball, Texas. He was turned away because he failed the FBI background check.
He appealed the rejection, and last month he got a Justice Department letter explaining that he was legally disqualified from owning guns, after handling them in defense of his country for two decades, because of a 42-year-old marijuana conviction.
As a high school student in Durham, North Carolina, he had been caught with a small amount of pot and pleaded guilty to misdemeanor possession, receiving a sentence of probation because he was a first-time offender.
The probation lasted a year, but according to the Justice Department the ensuing loss of Kelly’s Second Amendment rights lasts a lifetime.
“I am ashamed of the way my government has treated me,” Kelly told The Houston Chronicle. ”The government may have the greatest of intentions with the [law], but they messed it up.”