Letter: Army vet suffers from vague gun laws

To The Editor,
Letters1I 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.
Robert Kavanagh
Phoenixville
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Tags: background checks, gun laws, PICS

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