Tomball Army veteran can’t buy gun because of 42-year-old misdemeanor


by Drew Karedes / KHOU 11 News

Posted on July 11, 2013 at 10:28 PM

Updated Thursday, Jul 11 at 10:40 PM

TOMBALL, Texas -- A retired Army veteran has never felt the need to own a gun like he does now, but there’s a 42-year-old problem standing in his way.

Ronald Kelly, 59, of Tomball says he has been denied gun ownership because of a misdemeanor marijuana possession conviction in 1971.

That decision came in the form of a letter from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Kelly, who served his country for 20 years, said he was floored by the rejection.

“I was an infantryman. I’ve had more weapons in my hand than most people will see in their life,” Kelly said. “I mean if it happened five years ago or ten years ago, that would be pretty much in the present, but 42 years ago when I was 17.”

Kelly was living in North Carolina and in high school when he was caught with a small bag of marijuana. He served a one year probation sentence before enlisting in the U.S. Army.

He doesn’t believe that should prevent him from legally owning a gun.

Kelly suspects the rejection could have something to do with stricter gun control.

He said he wanted to purchase a .22 caliber rifle to defend his property.

“There are home invasions. Every day you read about someone breaking in,” Kelly said.

Kelly feels he’s being denied the right to protect himself.

He said gun enthusiasts have given him advice on how to buy a gun without a background check, but he hasn’t considered that option once.

“That would be the easy way to do it, but I don’t want to do that. They’ve denied me my rights after I’ve given them 20 years of my life to defend this country,” Kelly said.

Kelly said he plans to keep fighting the rejection. He has written letters to U.S. Rep Michael McCaul and U.S. Sen. John Cornyn.