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Vietnam Vet: Misdemeanor Assault Charge From '68 Prevents Me From Owning a Gun

It was 1968 when Jefferson Wayne Schrader and a group of his Navy friends were walking back to their base in Annapolis, Maryland and were attacked by a street gang. A couple of weekends later, Schrader says he saw one of the men involved in the attack on the street corner, and a fight broke out between them, during which Schrader punched the man in the nose. Fast forward 40 years, and the result of that fight is preventing Schrader from purchasing a gun.

A couple of cops happened to see the fight occur back in '68 and arrested Schrader for misdemeanor assault. He paid a $109 fine, then served two terms in Vietnam before receiving an honorable discharge from the Navy. Over the next 40 years, he says he bought and sold 15 weapons. But when he went to buy a handgun in 2008, the store did a background check and then flagged him ... because of the 40-year-old assault charge.

Maryland had apparently changed the law; today, the same charge Schrader received in '68 could land you in prison for two years. That fact meant that Schrader was now ineligible to own a gun.

"It actually shocked me," he said in an interview. "I was [surprised] and pretty much demoralized. I'm not a coward, and I don't back up from much, so it just didn't go well with me, didn't sit well at all."

Schrader's been fighting the decision for five years and has lost to a district court, as well as an appeals court in D.C. Still, he says he'd fight it all the way to the Supreme Court if they'd take up the case.

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