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UCMJ Prohibitions

Reports are emerging that the deranged murdering psycho (I shan’t name him) responsible for shooting up the Sikh temple was discharged from the military under less-than-honorable conditions. The Gun Control Act requires someone to have been discharged under dishonorable conditions, which is distinct from less-than-honorable, in order to be prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms. You generally have to do something pretty serious, and be convicted via court martial, in order to qualify for a dishonorable discharge. I figured I’d mention this, because no doubt people will be claiming he was prohibited from owning a firearm on the basis of his military discharge, which if it’s less-than-honorable is not correct.

UPDATE: Sean in the comments:

This is partially true. A Dishonorable Discharge is a direct bar to gun ownership, but there are other ways.

Other Than Honorable discharge is a negative type of administrative discharge and is not a bar to gun ownership. Could happen due to drugs or getting caught being part of a white supremacist group.

Bad Conduct Discharge, however, can only be issued as a result of a Special or General Court Martial. Any conviction at Court Martial is a Federal felony, and is generally barring.

10 Responses to “UCMJ Prohibitions”

  1. This is partially true. A Dishonorable Discharge is a direct bar to gun ownership, but there are other ways.

    Other Than Honorable discharge is a negative type of administrative discharge and is not a bar to gun ownership. Could happen due to drugs or getting caught being part of a white supremacist group.

    Bad Conduct Discharge, however, can only be issued as a result of a Special or General Court Martial. Any conviction at Court Martial is a Federal felony, and is generally barring.

    So far the shooter who shall remain nameless has only been characterized as having received a “less than honorable” discharge, which is not a real category. We know that he served as a Sergeant and was discharged as a Specialist, which is a demotion. We know he got in trouble, but you are correct that we don’t yet know how much trouble he got into and if that trouble was serious enough to follow him outside the military.

    I suspect that he, like most who do things like this, displayed all the antisocial signs that we’ve all come to know. I also think we will find that everyone knew what sort of person he was and no one did anything about it.

  2. Andy B. says:

    I would use the phrase “everyone knew what sort of person he was” guardedly. He is alleged to have been an active skinhead bigot, and yet my experience is that bigots can be incredibly stealthy with their infiltration of mainstream groups. See my comment at the “The Next Deranged Mass Murderer” post.

    • Fair enough. I think that the people who knew him will end up admitting that they knew he was dangerous.

      Plus, look at his tattoos. Does he look like the stealthy type?

      • Andy B. says:

        “I think that the people who knew him will end up admitting that they knew he was dangerous.”

        Sean, I agree, and I’m just thinking out loud without intending to be argumentative:

        First let me stipulate that I am a committed supporter of Constitutional Carry. But, I — and most gun owners I know — have known people with CCWs who, within five minutes of meeting them, we knew shouldn’t be carrying a gun. But on what LEGAL basis? What exactly could we rat them out on?

        In the case-in-point I’m thinking of, the guy who I met at a party and who scared the hell out of me, a couple months later actually threatened some people in an office where he was making a delivery, they called the police, and the sheriff lifted the guy’s CCW. So at that point, IMO, “the system worked” as it should, and no one got hurt. But prior to that what could I have done to forestall the situation, had it turned out to be deadly? And if I could have done something, why couldn’t someone else do it to me, if, say they thought my politics were too radical for their tastes?

        Just thinkin’. . .

        • Andy B. says:

          I just want to add, in case I need to establish some bona fides to be reflecting on the subject, that the last time I was in court was to successfully challenge the sheriff’s policy of adding a “doctors note” requirement to the CCW application process; wherein a general practitioner (or anyone with an MD or DO) was to attest to the applicant’s mental health. I’m sure you can see the pragmatic faults with such a policy, vis-a-vis the applicant’s rights.

        • No worries, I didn’t take it in bad part.

          The problem isn’t with your “bad feelings” it’s that we always seem to find half a dozen incidents where charges could have been brought but weren’t. Wives beaten and people threatened with death, that sort of thing.

          As cold as it sounds, we will never be able to find the perfect balance where only the bad people lose their licenses and no one gets their rights taken away unjustifiably. We have to decide which side of the balance we have to accept.

        • Alpheus says:

          I have a brother-in-law who served a mission in Brazil. He gave, as an example of someone who shouldn’t own a gun, a person he taught, who was paranoid, and answered the door with his gun pulled. “He’s crazy! With an attitude like that, someone’s going to get hurt!”

          The funny thing is, the guy was a cop. If the hiring process for police can’t weed out crazies, why should we expect us to be able to weed out the crazies of our population? Even the reforms that Clayton Cramer advocates for, won’t guarantee that all schizophrenics will be off the street, or keep all schizophrenics from getting guns.

          Come to think of it, perhaps the guy wasn’t even crazy. Perhaps he had offended enough criminals, that he was afraid that he was going to open the door one day to a criminal who was going to kill him? While we need to keep guns out of the hands of crazy people, we should also be aware that not all people who seem crazy, really are…

          • Matthew Carberry says:

            There’s a world of difference between “gun pulled” (which sort of implies the person at the door can see it, or worse has it pointed at them) and “gun discretely held out of sight of the person at the door.”

            The former is scary; the latter may be a bit extreme, but as you note, different people have different threat comfort levels.

  3. Dave says:

    I thought I read that he had a General Discharge. I was an Army officer for 9 years, and my recollection is that the order goes: Honorable, General, and Other Than Honorable, all of which are administrative and not indicative of any criminal conduct under UCMJ. Then you have the Bad Conduct Discharge and Dishonorable Discharge, both of which require some level of court martial under UCMJ. At any rate, I wouldn’t expect a General Discharge, or the root issues which brought it about, to disqualify someone from legally purchasing a gun. I could be wrong…

  4. Divemedic says:

    When I was in the military, I got an honorable discharge, and reenlisted 3 days later. I was an FFL holder, and owned a gun store. 18 months into my second enlistment, my new Lt ordered me to close my business, because he said that only the police and military should have guns. I refused.
    He found all sorts of ways to mess with me, until I finally got fed up and decided to see the CO. The Lt refused my requests. So, I showed up to work 10 minutes late every day for two weeks. When I went to the CO, I told him I wanted out of the command. He said that the only way that I could get out of the command was to accept an OTH. I did. Not a bar to gun ownership. I even own title 2 firearms.

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