To The Editor,
I am currently being prosecuted by the state of Pennsylvania for applying for gun ownership. I am 31 years old, an army veteran, and recently applied to PICS (PA instant check system) to own a shotgun. On this background check it asks if I have ever been adjudicated mentally defective or been 302’d (involuntary commitment). I checked “no” to this question. I have since been rejected for gun ownership and charged a felony for “knowingly lying” on this form.
After I failed the background check (having technically committed said felony) I was informed by our state that I had been committed in the year 2000, as a minor- an event that I had no recollection of until the state sent me paperwork on it. My mother committed me for “staying up too late, not going to school, and playing video games.” I did not have any major mental issues and was non-violent and non-suicidal. I have since gotten said medical paperwork which substantiates this.
I am an army veteran (honorably discharged). This event occurred 15 years ago and I did not remember it upon filling out this form. I am now facing trial on felony charges because I applied for gun ownership and did not recall a 302 that occurred when I was a minor, despite the validity of the 302 having been for absurd circumstances.
I have a completely clean record prior to this fiasco. I was temporarily locked up, cuffed, shackled to a bench and to a belt, fingerprinted and photographed, held in a room with criminals, have spent over $1000 on my lawyer so far (Phil Kline, PA gun attorney), and it is now affecting my job and personal life. I cannot leave the state of PA despite having business trip arrangements which would require me to leave the country.
This 302/gun ownership law is extremely vague in the state of PA and I am someone that is now being turned into a martyr by the state for a “crime” that I did not purposefully commit. This snowballed from an innocent memory lapse regarding a childhood event that should not be on my record due to the nature of the commitment.
This gun law has turned a normal, hard working veteran with a clean record into a potential felon for applying to own one and is truly an example of how outrageous and unreasonable the system for gun ownership is becoming in this state. I am now facing trial and am truly worried about the future of my life which I was previously very happy with.