And the story of how a cop threatened to shoot me in the face.
Question first. How do I get my gun rights back? Long story short, when I was 15 I had a run in with the law that resulted in me being legally unable to own (and maybe fire..?) a gun. I was told I could get this taken care of as soon as I turned 18—but it was never a priority—and now that I’m interested in firearms I have no idea how to fix this. Halp
The full story for those that are interested, settle in Oppo.
So, the summer after 9th grade, before my first real year of high school—my district had junior high, not middle school—two friends and I decided to climb onto the roof of an elementary school. Why? Because we were bored out of our minds. I vividly recall sitting in the deli section of a 24/7 grocery store, drinking sparkling apple cider, eating baguettes and spitballing ideas back and forth, trying to come up with something to end the monotony that had been the first week of summer break.
Despite my almost perfect memory of that scene, I couldn’t say who first came up with the idea. But it stuck. Climb up to the roof of a local school. This may not sound like “summit Everest” levels of excitement, but to us, that’s EXACTLY what it was. A grueling physical challenge, as the building was four stories tall, a modern design with a multitude of building materials and an odd layout. A mental challenge in the sense that picking the correct path would be crucial, and lastly a sense of danger—of risk—that nearly all boys of that age seem to crave, whether they realize it or not.
Whoever had the original idea is irrelevant. The three of us were on board 100%.
The next night, we met up at the same grocery store, just before midnight. On bike, scooter and my modded skateboard with longboard wheels—Oppo from the beginning—we cruised the half mile to the school. Despite the forecasted rain, we decided to try scaling the building. And scale it we did. Twas truly an epic adventure from ground to peak, but—and truly I am sorry—one that isn’t meant to be shared. There are a rare few special memories that are better left as that, memories. By the time we reached the top, we had all saved the other’s lives and were as such bonded in a way that few can comprehend.
So, we reached the tallest roof, and in doing so found a new past-time to give our summer meaning. From that night on, every couple of days we would try our hand climbing another school, thinking of ourselves as daring adventures straight out of the movies.
A month goes by, and we step it up a notch. We’re making custom equipment now. Grappling hook fashioned out of a guitar stand, paracord, and a roll of duct tape? Sticky gloves literally made by sewing sandpaper to the fingers and palms? All that and more.
We continued to meet at the 24/7 grocery store, but now we were dressed in all black, with backpacks full of gear and young minds full of bulletproof confidence. It’s a wonder none of the employees said danything to us, or the cops, during that summer. “Up to no good” couldn’t have been more clear if it was tattooed across our foreheads in florescent ink.
One night, we decided to go back to where it all started. The original school. It was a bit later this time, nearly two in the morning as we approached the building. One of the house down the street still had lights on, so we were more careful than ever about making noise. Stashing our wheels in the bushes, we came up to the east side, where no street lamps cast their revealing light. As was usual, I devised the climbing route, and brought out the necessary gear.
The oldest of us—by a few months—went first. He was lanky, strong, and somewhat brash, tending to rush things. Following behind him was my other friend. Shorter, skinny, without a lot of upper body strength, we’d occasionally have to help pull him up. What he lacked in strength he made up for in maneuverability, which was very important when crawling through tiny openings between pillars and abstract structural designs. Bringing up the rear, I put all of my bouldering practice to good use. If we got to a tricky spot, I’d take the lead, and help the others up.
Exactly twenty minutes went by before we reached the top, however these must have been metric minutes, because it felt like hours. Opening up our bags, we brought out doritos, salsa, candy—and yes—sparkling Apple cider and three fresh baguettes. We feasted like kings, enjoying every moment of that summer night.
Ready to leave, we went down a slightly different path. Halfway down I realized we’d made a mistake. There would be no going down this way, so back up we went. Lo and behold, in a spot all but invisible in the darkness, was a little hatch. We investigated, of course. Locked, but that didn’t stop us. Working together, all three of us managed to pull hard enough to break the dinky little masterlock... And that was it. We were inside the building. Suddenly, an entirely new area opened up to us. We’d reached a new map, and were determined to not waste the opportunity.
3:45 am, we stepped foot into the attic of a pitch black elementary school. For reasons truly unfathomable, we split up. The older friend on his own, the younger friend with me. Walkie talkies kept us in constant contact at first, but as the darkness pressed in around us, we felt more and more like the beeping of our electronics was an intrusion—an unwanted presence—that could awaken the sleeping beasts within. Attention we did not want.
Realize, that after so long in pitch black, with nothing but a dying phone to provide inadequate illumination, we were starting to rethink this idea. With a *BEEP* that nearly caused my heart to burst, my older friend told us to come quick, that he had found something wonderful.
We ran. The darkness was closing in, and neither of us wanted anything to do with with this place. The sooner we could meet up, the sooner we could be back in our own beds, safe at home.
Through seemingly endless hallways, a light in the distance slowly formed. We ran towards it, faster than ever. Jackpot! The teacher’s lounge! My friend was already there, sprawled over a big old armchair, waving us towards the vending machine in the corner. The adrenaline from the past hour suddenly fading, we both took out a few bills and purchased some snacks. I remember grabbing the bag of Sunchips that fell to the bott of the machine. The laughter as my friend’s box of Whoppers got stuck against the glass. With the soft illumination of the vending machine, the tension that had built u in all of us started to fade.
That’s when we saw the other lights.
Red lights. Blue lights.
We looked back and forth at each other, eyes wide, mouths open. No words. I can’t say what was going through their minds, but for me, that was when shit got real. We rushed in the nearest hallway, peeking out the windows of the classrooms on either side. Lights. Every window was lit up by the alternating blue and red. We were on the second floor, and after a brief argument ran out of the stairs, determined to get to the top, hop on the roof, and either slip away or wait them out.
We made it to the fourth floor, when we heard the dogs. Plural. This was no longer the slight, pervasive fear of exploring the dark, this had transformed into terror. Terror of suddenly realizing that your actions have consequences. That you have one life, and need to make it count. This was being grabbed by the collar and ripped out of childhood all in one go—no one to hold your hand and guide you—and it was utterly terrifying.
We rushed through the hatch onto the roof, and looked around. After eighteen, I stopped counting squad cars. The dogs sounded different. It took me a minute to realize why. They were inside.
There was zero chance of getting away at this point. If we’d gone to the ground floor as soon as we saw the lights and tried to make a brake for it, we may have been able to escape. But we might have gotten a bullet in our backs.
So we stayed on the roof. We sat down, hands in the air, and faced the hatch. There was no talking. Just waiting. More waiting.
The hatch opened. Three dogs came flying out, stopping just shy of us. Officers rushed out, guns trained, and radioed those below.
Most of the next hour was a blur, but there are two things I’ll remember to the day I die. One, the first words spoken to us, by a man who was probably the age I am now. “Hands in the air. I have no problem shooting a kid in the face”.
Two. Hours later, as we were led into the back of a van in cuffs, an older officer approaches us. He had the look of someone who’s been through more shit than the average man could even imagine, yet still somehow remained a genuine, caring human being. “We’ve all been there, son. Every one of us has done some dumb things in our past. You’ll get through this”.
Fingerprinted, booked in jail for two nights, we spilled everything. At 15, none of us knew how the legal system worked. We didn’t understand that you should never sayanything to a officer without a lawyer present. We just wanted to go home. We wanted a life that didn’t involve cell bars. We thought cooperating to the fullest was the way to do that.
I’m including photos of the three of us from that summer, so you can see what hardened criminals look like, and put faces to the characters above.
So, that’s my story Oppo. We eventually got released to our parents, and after a few court appearances, got away with 6 months probation, very minor fines, and gun rights taken away until our 18th birthday, where we would have the right to get them back.
Later found out that a neighbor to the school called the cops, claiming terrorists were in the building with explosives, which explains the manpower sent our way. 21 squad cars, police dogs, bomb squad, and 4 vans.
We got off great, but believe me when I say we were all afraid our lives were over for a good period of time. We were charged with trespassing, trespassing at night (yes, separate charge), breaking and entering, unlawful entry, vandalism, burglary, and one other charge that I never could remember. Felony charges, about half of them. There was a differed disposition, which I don’t fully understand, but I believe it means we pleaded guilty, and the courts sealed the records so they wouldn’t be visible to employers, schools, police, etc. After a certain amount of time. Something about being Minors, and it being a first offense.
And that’s where I am today. In all honesty, that arrest was probably for the better. For the next year, while on probation, I was convinced that I could be hauled off to jail at any moment. So I studied my ass off, and went from a smart, but incredibly lazy student with C’s, to 4.0 honor roll overachiever.
Slowly the fear of not knowing what would happen wore off, but the experience certainly left an imprint on me, even to this day. But back to the main point of this post, which—much like all of my posts—ended up 10x the length of what I was planning.
How do I get my gun rights back? I assume I can’t just make a call, because let’s face it, dealing with the government is never that easy. I have no idea where any of the documents from the case are—AestheticsInMotion vs. The State of Washington—as I moved out and severed ties with much of my family immediately after graduating from high school. Online, I’ve found tons of info, but I seems to vary from state to state, case to case. Some people say you need a lawyer to take care of everything, others say you just show up and tell the judge what a great person you’ve become since your run in with the law.
So, if you have any info, help me out!