Shared story from Isaac

I recently read the article that Sandra Richardson wrote to your group, and it resonated with the situation I’m experiencing now; I want to share my story.

My name is Isaac, and I am a veteran whose rights were stripped away without due processes, like Ms. Richardson’s. During my time in the military, I went through an incredibly rough patch due to the death of my mother figure, a relationship breakup, and the stress of being new in the military; all of this cumulated into a bout of severe depression. A close friend, concerned for my safety, called the local military police to conduct a welfare check. I was unaware of this happening, but at the time, I was speaking to my team leader about the worsening depression to reach out for help. The military police arrived while I was talking to him and asked if I wanted to go to the local hospital for help. I was hesitant at first, but the officers there helped break the stigma that I had in my mind about seeking that form of service, and I went with them on my own to a medical center in New York.

My stay there was incredibly beneficial, and I learned a lot about myself and how to cope with depression. I felt this stay was overall perfect for me. It wasn’t until about a year later that I realized that this stay would haunt me. I was honorably discharged army and moved back to my home state of Oregon. From there, being somebody who loves firearms, I attempted to purchase a shotgun for home defense. Unfortunately, I was greeted with an instant denial through NICS. I didn’t understand why I was denied; I figured this had to be a mistake, but I was wrong. It took months to finally figure out that my stay in the hospital resulted in this. At no point during my stay in the hospital was I told that I would be federally barred from owning firearms. I had no idea this was even a thing. I was around guns my entire life! I would go shooting with friends on an almost weekly basis! Even after my hospitalization, I continued my military career around automatic firearms, explosives, and dangerous weapons.

I’ve spent the past year and a half attempting to remove this specific flag from my background through the NY Safe Act office, but it’s been an absolute nightmare to get that done. Initially, the paperwork I had to fill out stated that it should only take 16 to 18 weeks to complete the appeal. Unfortunately, the people at the office responsible for these appeals told me it would take close to an entire year. I have almost reached the year mark, but I finally received a letter stating my denial today.

The letter I received paints me as a raging lunatic; it implies that I cannot be trusted around society with any form of weapons. The basis of their denial stems from the notes taken from all my previous mental health providers, the same mental health providers who told me that they did not believe that I was a danger to myself or others. Of course, the notes that psychologists write paint someone worse than they are! They wrote in such a way that they are MEANT to be black and white, not taken in such a literal fashion. Since my hospitalization, every therapist agreed that I am in no way, shape, or form a danger to myself or others.

I am not crazy; I am not a danger to society. I am a loving, hard-working man who seeks ways to improve his mental health, and I am being punished for that. The system discourages people from seeking help, especially veterans who silently suffer from mental health problems and refuse to seek help because of things like this. This flag has destroyed my lifelong goal of working in law enforcement; this flag has stripped one of my biggest passions, and it’s caused untold amounts of damage to my life.

From here, I begin the long legal battle to regain my second amendment rights.

— Isaac